NFL 2008-2009 Off-Season Pre-Draft Catch-All

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With the Super Bowl not even half a day behind us, the NFL season once again comes to a close. And once again, out of all professional sports, the NFL off-season is the most active of them all, with trades, drafts, signings, and the occasional crimes against human decency. So, while most of us start to draft excuses to avoid spending too much time with our SO's on Sunday afternoons, football life goes on.

And what better way to start the off-season than to look back on the past season with...another awards show!

IMAGE(http://img213.imageshack.us/img213/4545/20082009nflawardscopyrh2.jpg)

Most awards recognize outstanding excellence in a particular field. The MVP, the Rookie of the Year, the Emmy for Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special. These, however, seek to acknowledge merit and achievements both obscure and questionable. In fact, "Obscure and Questionable" is my middle name. Onward!

The Doug Flutie Award for Breakthrough Performance...But Not By A Rookie: Every so often we see a player who's been languishing in the league without a shot at stardom, riding the bench while others get the reps and the glory. Then, one day something comes along to change that. An injured starter, a trade, a free agent signing few people pay attention to and with that, a star is born. While this year's winner had to share the limelight with his quarterback, his contribution to his team's surprising resurgence is nonetheless special. Our winner this year is...Michael Turner (RB, Atlanta Falcons). Now no longer playing second fiddle to LaDanian Tomlison in San Diego and combined with Matty Ice, Turner put Atlanta back on the football map after last seasons's series of disasters. Of course, considering what happened to the teams of past winners of this award just after they won, Turner and the Falcons may want to watch their step.

2007-2008 Winner: David Garrard (QB, Jacksonville Jaguars)
2006-2007 Winner: Frank Gore (RB, San Francisco 49ers)

The "Who 'Dey?" Award for the League's Best Obscure Team Up Until the Playoffs: You know how it is. Other than your local teams (and unless you pony up for packages on cable and satellite), more often than not you'll end up seeing teams the networks think are the best. Sometimes teams that don't make the playoffs (I'm looking at you, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys) get all of the attention while some teams just calmly slide into the playoffs and finally make people take notice. In this season's winner's case, most people not only didn't pay much attention to them, they didn't give them a shot in hell in the playoffs. Their only notable "achievements" before this January was the lifestyle of their now backup QB and the rants of their now former head coach. They were favored but widely picked to lose at home in the Wild Card playoffs, but win they did. They were given no shot in the Divisional Playoffs, but soundly thrashed their opponent. They were mildly favored in the Conference Championship and came close to blowing it, yet they prevailed. They even got to the Super Bowl and while weren't technically favored ended up participating in one of the most memorable games in recent years. Obviously if you haven't figured it out by now, our winner is...the Arizona Cardinals. Never before has this happened, and if whining Patriots fans have their way, it'll probably never happen again. This team came in with more axes to grind than your local lumberjacks union and while they came up short in Super Bowl XLIII, they all proved that they belonged there in spite of their detractors. As a son of noble Western Pennsylvanians dating back to the Revolutionary War, my hat is off to the Arizona Cardinals.

2007-2008 Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars
2006-2007 Winner: New York Jets

The "Don't Believe the Hype" Award for the League's Highly Overrated Team: Great expectations usually result in great disappointment. When you have a team with star (pun intended) talent, you're expected to make noise in the league. The good kind of noise, not the whining and complaining you generally associate with losing teams like the Raiders or the Lions. Sometimes, though, the hype just goes to a level that's way beyond eleven. Certainly this was true for this year's winner. A reality show (with at least two more on the way), paparazzi, snide remarks in the locker room, debates with ESPN reporters, and an owner with an ego that barely fits into the new monstrosity of a stadium he's opening next season; this team was certainly asking for it. Of course, that team is...the Dallas Cowboys, marking our first back-to-back winner in this category. And why? Because it was more of the same. T.O. drama, Tony Romo drama, coaching drama; throw in Pacman Jones and the beatdown Philly gave them to knock them out of playoff contention and what we have is perhaps one of the most overrated franchises right now in professional sports next to the New York Yankees. Without something changing in Big D, they might be going for a three-peat.

2007-2008 Winner: Dallas Cowboys
2006-2007 Winner: San Diego Chargers

The Jim Mora Award for Spontaneous Press Conference Combustion: I both love and hate this category. I love it for the sheer insanity (PLAYOFFS?!) and quotability (I'M A MAN! I'M FORTY!) of it. On the other hand, I hate it because sometimes there's always a chance of not finding a winner in the ranks of the NFL, hence my bending the rules and looking to the college ranks last year. Head coaches are getting more and more media savvy, more level headed even after getting their butts whooped ten minutes before the press conference begins. This season had a real gem that not only fit the criteria for this award, but also lit a fire under his team to take their first steps away from mediocrity. That man is...Mike Singletary (Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers). His tirade, filled with such unforgettable phrases as "WE ARE NOT A CHARITY!" and "Can't do it, can't do it!" was not only funny, but ultimately useful, resulting in the team turning it around after the firing of Mike Nolan and earning the Samurai the head coach's position following the end of the regular season. It's not only good comedy, it's also good leadership. The pants thing, I'm not sure about.

2007-2008 Winner: Mike Gundy (Head Football Coach, Oklahoma State University)
2006-2007 Winner: Denny Green (Former Head Coach, Arizona Cardinals)

The Ricky Williams Award for the Worst Off-field Mishap of the Year: Perhaps we're too hard on football players; they are only human and they are prone to make the same mistakes that any other person is capable of. But one would think that somebody who has made it that far in the world and lives in the public spotlight would exercise better judgment. Then again, look at the now former governor of Illinois. But, since we're talking about the NFL, the transgressions may not result in impeachment, but can have a devastating affect on the team. Although in the case of this season's winner, it didn't look to initially be a problem. After all, this player had been somewhat of a pest in the locker room and some hoped that his not being there would change things for the better. Then came the playoffs. Naturally, I'm talking about...Plaxico Burress, (WR, New York Giants). With one accidental discharge of a gun tucked away in his sweatpants, he not only shot himself in the leg, but also his team in the foot. Without Plax in the line-up, Eli Manning went from Super Bowl winner back to being Peyton's little brother again at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. Just because someone on the team is a nuisance doesn't necessarily mean the team's better off without him. Right, G-Men?

2007-2008 Winner: Michael Vick (Former QB, Atlanta Falcons)
2006-2007 Winner: Ben Rothlesberger (QB, Pittsburgh Steelers)

The Guiding Light Award for Soap-Operas that Never End: Once touted as a revolution in media, there is one unfortunate side-effect of the 24 hour news cycle; you got to report stuff for 24 hours. For channels like CNN and FOX News, it means disecting the inauguration of Barack Obama from every possible angle, right on down to whether or not his coat was bullet resistant and to what his daughters were doing while he and the First Lady were partying until the brak of dawn. For ESPN, particularly when we're in the douldrums of the off-season, where the only other sport of note is baseball that still has miles to go before the penant race, it means constantly hounding NFL teams about this, that, and the other thing. Occasionally, we find ourselves tormented by an ongoing story that torments our every waking hour. Even if nothing is really going on with it, we're still being beaten over the head by speculation and rumors. This past season was no exception and this story will likely continue to haunt us through the winter, spring, and the summer. Said story is...Brett Favre. Yes, no need to qualify that any further; just the name should be enough to remind you of the endless coverage of Favre's ongoing drama with the Packers and the Jets and will likely send shivers down your back for the months to come. Nothing with this man is simple; the world seems to turn on every little word he says. I for one hope this time he makes a decision and sticks with it, though given past experience, I highly doubt it. *groan*

2007-2008 Winner: New England Patriots chasing the '72 Miami Dolphins
2006-2007 Winner: Terrell Owens (WR, Dallas Cowboys)

The Carolina Panthers Cheerleaders Award for Best Oogaba of the Season: This is another one of those awards that occasionally you have reach real far to find a winner, but at the same time, the effort is well rewarding, at least for me. Thankfully, our winner this year involved actual cheerleaders rather than fans or women completely not involved with the game of football. First off, special recognition should be given to our runners-up, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders who soldiered on in their tight leather outfits in the rain during a Week 13 game. As our own karmajay will attest, these gals are troopers, but they come just oh so short of our actual winner. You ordinarily don't think this sort of thing would happen during the playoffs, given that the majority of teams (at least the good ones) are in cold-weather areas. Thankfully the weather where our winner was happened to be nice (and it usually is year-round) and thus this particularly squad of sisters wore their normal ensemble, their oogaba just begging to be let out and in the case of one of their gorgeous clan, it kind of did. Our winner is...the San Diego Chargers cheerleader whose nipples inadvertently slipped out during the AFC Wild Card game. Want the proof? Have a look here (NSFW, obviously). Maybe Pacman "I likey de strip clubs" Jones should pay more attention to the sidelines.

2007-2008 Winner: Three Green Bay Packers fans wearing bikini tops, Week 17 and NFC Championship Game
2006-2007 Winner: Tara Conner and Katie Blair (Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, 2006). See this thread for details.

The Dick Cline Award for Bad Decisions in NFL Broadcasting: Television revolutionized the NFL and the NFL gave a little back to it. After all, no single program annually draws as much attention (and calls for proclamations of national holidays the following Monday) than the Super Bowl. That isn't to say that it's all been good; for every couple of Super Bowls, we get Heidi Bowls (to which the name of this award is in reference to). This year wasn't any different, from the Vikings locker room dong in Week 14, complaints about NBC's use of flex scheduling, and more people whining about not having the NFL Network. But this year, our winner has a bigger problem than just one little mistake, it's got a whole mess sitting on their hands when it comes to their football coverage. What started out as a small operation that few initially thought would work, it has become an empire, spanning all forms of media from print, radio, television, and the Internet (with a few bits in movies, too). Naturally, the top dog tends to attract the most scrutiny and sometimes it's unfounded, but not in the case of our winner...ESPN. The self-proclaimed World Wide Leader in Sports was once heralded for how it covered football, from turning what should be something as entertaining as watching paint dry into an event almost as big as the Super Bowl. I'm talking about the draft, of course. But these days, one can start to see the chinks in the armor, the flaws in their diamond. For starters, ESPN seems to have this voracious need to snap up any recently retired player to serve as an analyst regardless of any media talent (see the hirings of Emmitt "Bitches still owe him sex" Smith, Keyshawn Johnson, Tim Hasselbeck, Trent Dilfer, and most recently Herm Edwards). Their once must-see pregame show is starting to become a little tired (A holodeck? Didn't Star Trek run that gimick into the ground already?). The schtick of Chris "You're with me, Leather" Berman has worn completely thin, though it's still better than watching FOX continue to push the grossly-unfunny Frank Caliendo or having CBS' snore-fest rob you of your Sunday morning caffeine buzz. Monday Night Football, what used to be the one thing that made Mondays enjoyable, is dying a slow death now that ESPN's running the show (Didn't they learn from the Dennis Miller days that having a "regular joe" like Tony Kornheiser in the booth is a terrible idea?). Finally, and what is perhaps ESPN's most damning problem these days, is its reporting.

I'm not talking about their constant and overwhelming coverage; as I noted before, that's the nature of the beast these days. I'm more concerned with how they do it. Obviously, one of the most important tools in a journalist's arsenal are sources, the people that can give you the kind of information that you can't get an organization to admit publicly. One of ESPN's go-too guys in that regard for the last eighteen years or so has been Chris Mortensen, who's "I've talked with my sources in the [team or league office]" has become a familiar refrain on Sunday mornings and the occasional SportsCenter. Unfortunately, he's had some issues in that regard, in that said sources tend to be dead wrong. For example (thanks, *Legion*), Mort claimed that it was unlikely that Michael Vick would be indicted, he believed that the Cowboys were looking to hire Ron Rivera just before they announced they picked Wade Phillips, he reported that Eli Manning would be out for a month with a separated shoulder when in fact he didn't miss a single game all season, he said that Atlanta was looking for Bill Parcells to take over their front office (turns out they really didn't need him, anyway), he claimed that Mike Shanahan would be the next head coach in Kansas City, and he said the Raiders were up for sale, all of which he's either backed off from, quietly apologized for, or spun it to make it look like he he really wasn't wrong in the first place. All the while, journalists who don't suffer from Mort's form of premature speculation like the NFL Network's Adam Schefter, FOX Sports' Jay Glazer, and Sport's Illustrated's Peter King are shooting them down like a trained Delta Force operator playing Duck Hunt. It's kind of hard to keep relying on ESPN as a source for football news when their main man isn't all that reliable. And Mort's counterpart, John Clayton, isn't that much better. Just this past Friday, he and ESPN bogarted a story from Pro Football Talk concerning an x-ray performed on Ben Rothlesberger without sourcing it (which at least they did with Deadspin's reporting on Mark McGuire's brother, but this about football, not baseball).

Look, I know this is getting pretty long and the band looks like it's about to play me out, but in spite of how looks like I'm completely trashing ESPN, let me at least say something nice. Their baseball coverage (from a reporting standpoint, at least) is excellent. Outside the Lines and The Sports Reporters have been some of my favorite sports shows for nearly twenty years. E:60 puts a human face on sports that can get easily glossed over in a thirty-second highlight reel. On the other hand, ESPN's problems aren't limited to football, either, such as their over-reliance on opinion shows (Jim Rome is Burning, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, and anything involving Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith). When one claims themselves as king of something, one better make sure the peasants are satisfied with how you're ruling. This particular peasant is not.

2007-2008 Winner: NFL Network
2006-2007 Winner: NFL Network

The Keyshawn Johnson Award for "C'mon Man" Moment of the Year: All right, if you're still here after my reading from the bully pulpit, I'd like to introduce a new award this year. Yes, I know I just kicked ESPN to the curb, but some how that catchphrase of Meshawn's is quite infectious (as in like a skin rash) and fits the bill for another dubious honor this year. Every so often you see a player made a boneheaded mistake and this award seeks to recognize the largest on-field one (the Ricky Williams' one is only for off-field incidents). Sometimes it could be a blown tackle, forgetting that if you step out of bounds in your own endzone resulting in a safety, or getting lifted by your junk by the ref. Or, as in the case of our innagural winner, it involves a celebration. No, he didn't try a Chad Ocho Cinco stunt. No, he wasn't fined for something as harmless as making a snow angel. Nope, this guy's problem was that he celebrated before he even scored. That's right, our winner is...DeShaun Dropson...I mean Jackson (WR, Philadelphia Eagles) for his Week 2 pre-endzone spike. And the funny part is that it isn't the first time he spiked the ball before breaking the plane, either. Does he have problems with depth perception or something? C'mon, man!

Rat Boy's Rat of the Year Award: Finally, the granddaddy of them all, the one award that you really, really don't want to have any part in (though Nick Saban) seems to be doing well right now). This award recognizes the worst of the worst, the most egregious acts that can possibly be committed by anyone affiliated with the National Football League. Someone must have done something incredibly bad in order to be considered for this award, and sadly there was plenty to choose from. From the aforementioned Plaxico Burress, to Matt "Cocaine is a hell of a drug" Jones, to the Carolina Panthers revoking the PSLs of anyone who didn't buy playoff tickets (and based on how they did against Arizona, I can see why anyone would), there's quite a number of bad behaviors to call attention to, but this one from early in the regular season takes the cake. Firing coaches isn't unusual, from the "Ah screw it!" firings in the mid season to the mass firings at the end of the regular season, there's a reason why it seems the head coaching position is so volatile. Someone has to be held accountable for bad performance and until some owner up and decides to purge the entire team, the coaching staff will always be the first target. But you see, this particular firing was different. There was an almost pathological nature to it, as if this took careful planning to set up the press conference to justify it. It was like watching Palpatine explain to the Galactic Senate why he wiped out the Jedi. Sure, you knew the emperor was full of sh*t, but it seemed so methodical that were it coming out of anyone else's mouth might sound plausible. Yes, if you haven't guessed by now, our winner this year is...Al Davis, (Owner, Oakland Raiders) for his firing of Lane Kiffen.

That Al Davis is a manipulative and controlling owner isn't a revelation; we've known that from the get go and it has clearly rubbed off on Jerry Jones. We also know that he can be ruthless in firing personnel; just ask Mike Shanahan. What takes the termination of Lane Kiffen to a whole different level is how far Al Davis went in doing this. Clearly he's not senile; his body may be failing him, but he's still as cold and as calculating as ever. I've never in my life have seen someone go through these lengths during a termination, to outline so painstakingly why he believed Lane Kiffen was fired for cause and thus wasn't owed all the money he was due under his contract. The sad part is that Al Davis does not understand why actions that might have served him well in the past don't seem to be generating results. He'll continue to sit on his silver and black throne wondering why his organization has become a mockery in the NFL, all the while Lane Kiffen enjoys himself at the University of Tennessee with his dad and his superbabe wife. But, it's acts like that will get you the Rat of the Year Award.

2007-2008 Winner: Michael Vick (Former QB, Atlanta Falcons)
2006-2007 Winner: Nick Saban (Former Head Coach, Miami Dolphins)

Rat Boy wrote:

For example (thanks, *Legion*)

Happy to help. Nice list.

The Doug Flutie Award for Breakthrough Performance...But Not By A Rookie

Michael Turner is a solid choice. But I would go with DeAngelo Williams. 1500 yards on 273 carries! 5.5 yards a pop. Turner had a staggering 1699 yards but he also had a million carries (or, more precisely, 376). Williams was a touchdown machine with 18 TDs. I was extremely high on Williams back on draft day a few years ago, but I was starting to wonder if I had been wrong about him. But he had a major breakthrough this year. Turner has really played well his whole career, he'd just been limited in opportunities behind LT.

The Jim Mora Award for Spontaneous Press Conference Combustion

There was really no other choice than Singletary.

*Legion* wrote:
The Doug Flutie Award for Breakthrough Performance...But Not By A Rookie

Michael Turner is a solid choice. But I would go with DeAngelo Williams. 1500 yards on 273 carries! 5.5 yards a pop. Turner had a staggering 1699 yards but he also had a million carries (or, more precisely, 376). Williams was a touchdown machine with 18 TDs. I was extremely high on Williams back on draft day a few years ago, but I was starting to wonder if I had been wrong about him. But he had a major breakthrough this year. Turner has really played well his whole career, he'd just been limited in opportunities behind LT.

I thought Turner worked better in this category because Matty Ice was the RotY.

Edit: Proof positive why alcohol and horses don't mix.

As far as cheerleader nipples go, I have to say, that was pretty tame. It certainly wasn't Visanthe Shiancoe's penis.

Rat Boy wrote:

I thought Turner worked better in this category because Matty Ice was the RotY.

And it should be noted that, despite the large number of carries, Turner wasn't racking up yards just by sheer number of attempts. He averaged 4.5 a carry. It wasn't an Eddie George "get 1500 yards by running the ball about 400 times for only 3.9 a pop" kind of season. Guys like that are the Art Monks of running backs - give them the ball enough times and eventually the total numbers will get big, regardless of how unimpressive each individual play was.

My concern for Turner is that 370+ carries a year isn't sustainable. There is very often a sharp, sharp dropoff in performance for running backs the year after they break 370 carries a season. It will be interesting to see how Turner fares in the face of the "curse of 370".

Man, you can HARDLY see that Charger nip. Meanwhile you got 30+ sexy cheerleaders shaking their ass in the rain! Wet hair, water streaming off their bodies....er, I'll be in my bunk

It's the award for oogaba, not wetgaba.

Wetgaba is the BEST oogaba in my book.

The "Don't Believe the Hype" Award for the League's Highly Overrated Team: Great expectations usually result in great disappointment. When you have a team with star (pun intended) talent, you're expected to make noise in the league. The good kind of noise, not the whining and complaining you generally associate with losing teams like the Raiders or the Lions. Sometimes, though, the hype just goes to a level that's way beyond eleven. Certainly this was true for this year's winner. A reality show (with at least two more on the way), paparazzi, snide remarks in the locker room, debates with ESPN reporters, and an owner with an ego that barely fits into the new monstrosity of a stadium he's opening next season; this team was certainly asking for it. Of course, that team is...the Dallas Cowboys, marking our first back-to-back winner in this category. And why? Because it was more of the same. T.O. drama, Tony Romo drama, coaching drama; throw in Pacman Jones and the beatdown Philly gave them to knock them out of playoff contention and what we have is perhaps one of the most overrated franchises right now in professional sports next to the New York Yankees. Without something changing in Big D, they might be going for a three-peat.

How Ironic is that once again the Cowboys are right behind the Patriots in terms of next years favorites to win the Super Bowl.

TheGameguru wrote:
The "Don't Believe the Hype" Award for the League's Highly Overrated Team: Great expectations usually result in great disappointment. When you have a team with star (pun intended) talent, you're expected to make noise in the league. The good kind of noise, not the whining and complaining you generally associate with losing teams like the Raiders or the Lions. Sometimes, though, the hype just goes to a level that's way beyond eleven. Certainly this was true for this year's winner. A reality show (with at least two more on the way), paparazzi, snide remarks in the locker room, debates with ESPN reporters, and an owner with an ego that barely fits into the new monstrosity of a stadium he's opening next season; this team was certainly asking for it. Of course, that team is...the Dallas Cowboys, marking our first back-to-back winner in this category. And why? Because it was more of the same. T.O. drama, Tony Romo drama, coaching drama; throw in Pacman Jones and the beatdown Philly gave them to knock them out of playoff contention and what we have is perhaps one of the most overrated franchises right now in professional sports next to the New York Yankees. Without something changing in Big D, they might be going for a three-peat.

How Ironic is that once again the Cowboys are right behind the Patriots in terms of next years favorites to win the Super Bowl.

I already put 15 on the Packers at 26:1. In the new NFL anything can happen, like the Cardinals being one defensive stand away from a SB.

Jags 29:1? Bears 51:1?? honestly the Bears cant be that far off from getting their defense back on course to make a finals appearance!

Vikes 19:1 is highly comical.

Rat Boy wrote:

It's the award for oogaba, not wetgaba.

Well, here's a little oogaba: Maxim names Houston's "Randi" NFL's Hottest Cheerleader

I'm sure this'll piss off TheAmazingZoidberg.

Edit: And somebody in Detroit's still pissed off at Matt Millen.

jowner wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:
The "Don't Believe the Hype" Award for the League's Highly Overrated Team: Great expectations usually result in great disappointment. When you have a team with star (pun intended) talent, you're expected to make noise in the league. The good kind of noise, not the whining and complaining you generally associate with losing teams like the Raiders or the Lions. Sometimes, though, the hype just goes to a level that's way beyond eleven. Certainly this was true for this year's winner. A reality show (with at least two more on the way), paparazzi, snide remarks in the locker room, debates with ESPN reporters, and an owner with an ego that barely fits into the new monstrosity of a stadium he's opening next season; this team was certainly asking for it. Of course, that team is...the Dallas Cowboys, marking our first back-to-back winner in this category. And why? Because it was more of the same. T.O. drama, Tony Romo drama, coaching drama; throw in Pacman Jones and the beatdown Philly gave them to knock them out of playoff contention and what we have is perhaps one of the most overrated franchises right now in professional sports next to the New York Yankees. Without something changing in Big D, they might be going for a three-peat.

How Ironic is that once again the Cowboys are right behind the Patriots in terms of next years favorites to win the Super Bowl.

I already put 15 on the Packers at 26:1. In the new NFL anything can happen, like the Cardinals being one defensive stand away from a SB.

Jags 29:1? Bears 51:1?? honestly the Bears cant be that far off from getting their defense back on course to make a finals appearance!

Vikes 19:1 is highly comical.

Honestly, I'd probably give you 100:1 on the Bears. They ARE that far from another Super Bowl (God, I hope I'm wrong).

Larry Johnson is just a stupid, stupid man.

Apparently he wants out of KC, which is fine. No one really wants him either. The problem is cutting or trading him isn't really an option, as the cap hit will just be too freaking large. Seriously, HE signed a long term deal with a lot of bonus money. That locked him into KC for at least another year, if not two. It's not like he is getting screwed. They paid him a ton of money to extend that contract.

So now he starts talking about leaving, which is going to just put him in an even worse position with the team. And the less carries he gets, the worse deal he will be able to make with someone after the Chiefs do cut him. If played nice, the Chiefs might be able to trade him next season, but it still won't be worth just cutting him. as it is, he isn't intelligent enough to realize what his actual options are.

Larry Johnson is worth almost nothing right now, even as a free agent on the open market. Nobody wants a 29 year old running back with injuries the past two seasons, who on top of that has the notion that he's an elite player. Shaun Alexander has become the symbol of this sort of back. Older backs like Jerome Bettis and Fred Taylor figured it out - once you approach 30, drop your price, accept a support role, and extend your career.

Chris Johnson. Matt Forte. Kevin Smith. Steve Slaton. Adrian Peterson. Marshawn Lynch. DeAngelo Williams. Joseph Addai. Maurice Jones-Drew. Nearly a third of the league has what appear to be long-term solutions at the running back position by simply investing a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd round draft pick in the last 3 years. And this list leaves off some less-accomplished but still productive players like Reggie Bush, Laurence Maroney, LenDale White, etc., as well as some of last year's picks who we're not yet sure about: Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, etc. (Kevin Smith is borderline and may belong in this group)

Any team that needs a running back will look to the draft for one. Better to take the chances with a 22 year old rookie back than a 29 year old guy who could break down any minute. Especially when the rookies have been running a really strong track record as of late.

I agree. He got a great contract a couple of years ago, and should have realized that was his last big contract. I think he can still be a productive every down back if he commits to just playing and stops whining about the offensive scheme and stuff. But he is just about done a starter. The only thing that might give him an extra year or two is the lack of use he had the first few years when he sat behind Priest Holmes.

But his situation is pretty much set. He signed a contract that ensured he would not be able to play anywhere else until 2010 at the very earliest. It doesn't matter how much he pouts, he is just going to have to enjoy the $40 million bucks or so he will end up getting. Now, if he decided to just work hard and be the best back he could be, he could have a couple of good seasons. But he can forget about playing for the Cowboys or on the east coast. That ship sailed the day he signed the extension.

He's just pissed that the consensus in KC is that contract was the nail in Carl Peterson's coffin. Yeah, the Chiefs would love to move on, but there is just not a good way to do it.

Johnson never seemed to understand that his years of high production were inflated by what was probably the best offensive line of the '00 decade. Which isn't to say that none of the production was from him, but that a lot less of it was from him than he thinks.

This weekend, I hope to give some good viewing time to the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, both of which are sitting on my DVR.

I always love the Shrine game because Fresno State is usually well represented in that sea of second-tier collegiate all-stars.

Dan Reeves out of Dallas after two days. Well, that didn't take long to fail.

Rat Boy wrote:

Dan Reeves out of Dallas after two days. Well, that didn't take long to fail.

Report is that it's due to a dispute over title.

Which sounds silly. And the report is from none other than this year's Dick Cline Award winner. So we really don't know crap.

Then again, we're talking about Jerry Jones and Dan Reeves. "Silly" is probably an inevitable conclusion.

It's a official, Haley is the new coack of the Chiefs. I don't think it is a bad hire, but I'm never too excited about young assistants making big jumps. I read this on the KC Star about the Chief's youth movement.

What's interesting about this setup is that the Chiefs' plan last year of going younger just keeps becoming reality. Did you know that three years ago, the average age of the Chiefs' owner, general manager and head coach was 62 years old?

Now that all three of those updated pieces are in place, the average age of the same positions is 20 years younger. The old man of today's group, chairman Clark Hunt, will turn 44 in two weeks.

Now Haley and Pioli need to sit Larry Johnson down and assure him that he is, in fact, the best running back they have ever seen. LJ is going nowhere, so it is in everyone's best interest in LJ comes to camp ready to work his tail off, and not thinking about who else he wants to play for.

Tony Gonzalez, on the other hand, they don't have to baby. He's a professional, and will be giving 110% regardless. If they stick with Thigpen, which is 50/50, they need Gonzalez as an easy target for him. I won't be upset if they trade him for picks, though.

Now, what will Pioli do wit the first pick? OLB Curry, one of the OTs, a QB, or reaching and find themselves lining Michael Crabtree up opposite of Dwayne Bowe. If the OL gets shored up, and LJ comes back ready to play, that will be a pretty nice set of offensive weapons, adding Crabtree to the mix. But they really do need to get another OL that can start.

The nice part of the Chiefs off-season, though, they have an abundance of cap space. Right now they have $37 million, and can easily cut some players to boost that to well of $40 million. So adding Cassell and Juliaus Peppers is actually possible. But I might save the dollars on Cassel, draft a mid round QB and let Thigpen have another go. Then use that money to bring in another OL or defensive help.

This is the off-season I have been waiting for. I'm just anxious to see what happens.

The nice part of the Chiefs off-season, though, they have an abundance of cap space. Right now they have $37 million, and can easily cut some players to boost that to well of $40 million. So adding Cassell and Juliaus Peppers is actually possible. But I might save the dollars on Cassel, draft a mid round QB and let Thigpen have another go. Then use that money to bring in another OL or defensive help.

The Patriots franchised Cassel a few days ago so I'd be in favor of letting Thigpen develop further. I also wouldn't bring in someone like Peppers just yet - he's a guy I'd want if I had a team that could make a push for the playoffs with his help, and the Chiefs are at least a year out from that IMO. If I were Pioli I'd be spending the money on younger free agents like Leroy Hill or Ashomouga (assuming the Raiders don't franchise him again) and as many quality draft picks as possible.

So, with Dungy out and the Cald-eron in, its good to see the new boss putting his stamp on the structure in Indy. Plenty of us were worried that it would look too much like Dungy Mk.II and subsequently suck it up.
They still have yet to prove that they won't suck it up, but its certainly not Dungy's team at the top anymore.

New DC - Coyer. How does everyone feel about Coyer? Nothing about the 2003-2006 Denver defense stands out in my mind, but I probably wasn't playing close enough attention. Tampa's 2007 D was very impressive, so I'm interested to see if he can toughen us up against the run.
New Assistant Head Coach - Clyde Christensen. WR Coach for the Colts.
New ST Coach - Rychleski. Special Teams coach at South Carolina and has done some coaching with Caldwell. Anyone watch South Carolina's special teams play? Is it going to be a big step up for him?
New QB Coach - Reich. Internal promotion from offensive assistant.

The only interesting highlight from the Pro Bowl.

Edit: And I only bring you this story about the arrest of former running back turned analyst on a show that continues to baffle me as to why it's still on the air, Jamal Anderson in order to show off the following once more:

IMAGE(http://img512.imageshack.us/img512/9272/normalcocainerickjameshs1.jpg)

Haakon7 wrote:

New DC - Coyer. How does everyone feel about Coyer?

I feel great about it - of course, as a Jaguar fan, that might not be the endorsement you want to hear.

Certainly you remember what Manning & Co. did to Coyer's Bronco defense in the 2003 playoffs - the game where Manning threw for 377 yards, 5 TDs, and a perfect passer rating (Colts 41, Broncos 10).

And then there's the 7 offensive TDs that the team hung on that defense the very next year's wild card weekend (Colts 49, Broncos 24).

Coyer's defense is kind of a smoke-and-mirrors "show blitz" scheme that tries to bring some of that 3-4 blitz confusion into a 4-3 package. It's not particularly effective. I imagine Coyer will probably be running the Dungy Cover 2 that's in place more so than implementing his scheme, but even still, it's not a hire that scared me.

*Legion* wrote:

I feel great about it - of course, as a Jaguar fan, that might not be the endorsement you want to hear.
...
Coyer's defense is kind of a smoke-and-mirrors "show blitz" scheme that tries to bring some of that 3-4 blitz confusion into a 4-3 package. It's not particularly effective.

Maybe that's why I'm struggling to remember some of Denver's D play - it wasn't there. Color me worried.

I guess time will tell, but the last thing we need is a less effective scheme. I mean, one of the strengths of our pass defense is that most of the pressure is generated by the DE's without having to commit too much to selling the blitz. If you start piling too many guys into pressure, that's just going to encourage teams to go the Brady route of dump passes into the middle.

Big Ben did indeed have two broken ribs and had them checked out as a certain football site reported that most in the "mainstream" media scoffed at. He who laughs last laughs hardest.

Pro Football Talk's rise has been quite an interesting one.

A few years ago, they were the equivalent of a football tabloid. Every weak, unsubstantiated rumor went up there, most of which were baseless, but packed full of Jim Rome Attitude (tm).

Somewhere along the way, respectability snuck in. Sources became more reliable and some buried stories were broken. And with that came a great deal of new attention, and the attitude and penchant for posting anything and everything died down. It helped that they landed some excellent writers like Michael David Smith in that span (who is no longer writing for them, but the "damage" of raising the level of journalism has been done)

PFT's gone from a garbage read to a must-read.

The Ravens are making noise like they plan on doing whatever it takes to keep Ray Lewis, but are content to let Bart Scott walk.

Sorry, Raven fans.

*Legion* wrote:

The Ravens are making noise like they plan on doing whatever it takes to keep Ray Lewis, but are content to let Bart Scott walk.

Sorry, Raven fans. :(

/cry.

I'm sure Rat Boy saw the PFT link to this story, opining on whether the 49ers should look at Matt Sanchez or an offensive tackle at pick #10.

I'm not sure how many of the players Mayock talked about will even be at pick 10. I expect the top three OTs to all be gone after Jacksonville's pick at #8 - if any of the three are left by #8, they won't be after that pick. I can easily see St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Jacksonville taking those tackles, leaving only Michael Oher in the discussion - and his stock is sliding well outside of top 10 land. If Kansas City doesn't take Sanchez, there's a good chance he'll be there at #10 - after KC, the teams that draft have Matt Hasselbeck, Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn, Carson Palmer, JaMarcus Russell, David Garrard, and Aaron Rodgers. Maybe Seattle if they're concerned about Hasselbeck's future. The other teams are either happy with their QBs or at least invested enough to ride them out and see how high they can go.

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