Thursday, June 21, 2007


  • If you're a Bucs fan, the news that Maurice Stovall and David Boston are competing for the second and third receiving spots cannot be a good sign. Stovall caught seven passes for 102 yards in an injury-plagued rookie season; Boston, who had one phenomenal season in 2001 with Arizona, last played in 2005 where he played in five games and caught four passes. I assume Stovall secures the spot because Jon Gruden seems high on him. Meanwhile, their best receiver, Mark Clayton, who has been injured the past two seasons, is looking to return to his rookie form, where he caught 80 passes for nearly 1,200 yards. Last season, the most yards Clayton had in one game was 62, in a 14-3 loss to Atlanta.

  • 49ers QB Alex Smith, poised for a break-out season? I don't know about you, but that Week 1 Monday Night match-up with San Fran and Arizona has got me pretty excited for the start of the season.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


  • Jeff Garcia: is the guy really going to turn Tampa Bay from a four win team to a playoff contender? To hear David Dorsey of The News-Press tell it, expect at least the offense to dramatically turn around. That's not a lot to expect, considering how dreadful that unit was last season. I don't mean to sound uninspired by Garcia's arrival, but I think his supposed resurgence in Philadelphia had much more to do with Andy Reid's offensive philosophy than it did Garcia, who Football Outsiders ranked as the 18th best quarterback last season. Let's just say that I'd be more surprised if the Bucs won 10 games than if they won five. Personally, I'd rather have Jake Plummer (really), who in 2005 was one of the best QBs in the league. But apparently he's not coming out of retirement anytime soon -- and if he does, Garcia says he can "come sit the bench." Nice. Now, on the defensive side of the ball, Tampa is going to need Simeon Rice to be healthy -- they are expecting him to return to Pro Bowl form. Finally, if anybody knows of any good Bucs blogs, let me know in the comments.

  • Pro Bowl corner DeAngelo Hall, taking rookie Chris Houston under his wing. That should be one formidable cornerback duo for years to come.

  • Are the Kansas City Chiefs going to win even five games this year? I'm telling you, with Brodie Croyle under center, and a used-and-abused Larry Johnson carrying the load, this offense is going to be putrid. Not that I don't think Croyle can be a solid QB in this league; I just think this season will be a tough learning curve for him.

  • The potential replacement (if it comes to that) for Patriots corner Asante Samuel? A guy you've probably never heard of.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


  • Dan Wilkinson, retiring from the NFL to open up a few AAMCO stations. Wonder if he'll decline servicing someone's car after being uninvited to a trip to Martha's Vineyard.

  • As I expected, Chris Brown has decided to re-sign with the Titans, inking a one-year deal. This was a no-brainer for Brown -- he either backed-up Cedric Benson in Chicago, or won the starting job over LenDale White in Tennessee. And believe me, he's going to win that starting job. White is overweight, slowed by a hamstring injury, and just isn't an every-down type of back. I am curious to see what Vegas has for the over/under for season wins for Tennessee. If it's hovering around 7 1/2 - 8 1/2 -- which is my best guess -- then I'm jumping all over the under. I know Vince Young led them to a strong finish last season, but this team will struggle. I see nine losses on this schedule as a near certainty.

  • Washington defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is gushing about second-year LB Rocky McIntosh: "His speed and anticipation of the opponent's offensive concepts have been outstanding. I hope that this will transition into that second year blossoming. I think Rocky's going to make some big plays this year."

Monday, June 18, 2007


Other than Bill Simmons, the most polarizing sports writer on the Internet today has got to be Peter King -- either you love him, or you can't stand him. Personally, his MMQB column is a must-read, and for all of those people who mock him -- this comment made me laugh out loud: "King is a nonsense fountain" -- well, then why are they reading him in the first place? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Anyway, King's "stat of the week" was an eyebrow-raiser, at least for me: the average rating showed that 6.9 million American households tuned in to the NBA Finals, while last year's late-night Monday Night opener between the Chargers and Raiders -- a 27-0 San Diego mauling that didn't start until after 10 pm on the east coast -- was watched by 7.9 million American TV households. The NBA really does have a problem on its hands, and that problem is mainly that its league is unwatchable, it really is.


  • Is it likely that Washington will have the second most potent offense (behind Philadelphia) in the NFC East this season? If that offensive line can hold up, they certainly have the weapons: Portis, Moss, Cooley, and an ever improving Jason Campbell, who I believe will have a break out year. I see him putting up better numbers in that division than Manning and Romo . . . Howard Bryant of the Washington Post writes that last year, when given the chance to start, Ladell Betts played like a No. 1 running back, and his statistics seem to tell the same story. I'm surprised Betts didn't test the open market; instead he opted to stay in town, signing a five-year extension. He will certainly provide a competent back-up to Portis, and is yet another weapon Al Saunders can deploy on offense . . . And over at Hog Heaven, Anthony Brown is excited about the 'Skins youth movement, while The Redskin Report thinks Campbell has a "50-50 shot of being better than Eli Manning this year."

  • Michael David Smith, who seems to be writing everywhere these days, makes a strong case for Daunte Culpepper signing with the Jets. Here's the reasoning: do not expect New York starter Chad Pennington, who missed 16 of 32 games in 2004 and 2005, to stay healthy for the entire season. Wouldn't Culpepper -- assuming he comes cheap -- be a good fit for a number of teams? Why wouldn't Oakland sign him and let rookie JaMarcus Russell take a back seek for a few weeks? I think he'd flourish in Detroit's system. And though he may have burned some bridges there, you're telling me Minnesota doesn't need a quarterback right now? I'm not saying Culpepper is going to revert to his 2004 form -- where he put up some obscene numbers -- (over 4,700 yards passing, 39 TDs) -- but I'd take a cheap flier on the guy and at worst have him as a serviceable back-up.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


  • Eli Manning was picked off six times in mini-camp -- is that a lot? Sometimes a little context helps to explain these stats. Anyway, Newsday reports that the Giants offense is struggling so far, what with the inconsistency of Manning, the retirement of Tiki Barber, and the uncertainty about who will be playing left tackle. The Giants are going to be in for a rough season, I'm afraid. I actually think Manning is a better QB than most people give him credit for -- the stats say he's middle of the pack -- and that he'll improve this year, with an underrated group of receivers who have essentially added two new pieces in Sinorice Moss (injured most of last season) and Steve Smith, the rookie out of USC. But they are going to miss Barber more than they could ever imagine, and I just don't see the combination of Brandon Jacobs (a situational back) and Reuben Droughns (the worst back in the entire league last year) being productive at all, and their inability to be able to run the ball is going to doom them, no matter how many people are impressed with rookie Ahmad Bradshaw. Just watch. As for their defense, Paul Schwartz of the Post has a report on new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's system and how the players are adapting.

  • The Jets, on the other hand, seem to be in good hands with Thomas Jones carrying the load. They are also expecting big things from newly acquired Kenyon Coleman.

  • Joe Staley, one of my favorite rookies -- I think he steps in and makes an immediate impact -- gets some work with the first team at right tackle.

  • Gregg Williams may have simplified the Redskins defensive scheme, but how does not adding any significant help to a terrible defensive line help matters?

  • Michael Huff and Donovin Darius would make for a pretty good safety combination in Oakland if it ever happened.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Yesterday I discussed Bucky Brooks' predictions for the rise and fall of players in 2007; here is a column by Randy Hill of Fox Sports on teams who will improve and who will regress. Hill predicts that the 49ers out of the NFC and the Texans (yes, really) out of the AFC will improve, and that the Bears and Ravens will fall.

A lot of people seem high on the 49ers this year, and it's tough to blame them -- Alex Smith is an emerging star at quarterback, Frank Gore is a legit Pro Bowler running the ball, and I have an unhealthy obsession with Vernon Davis: I think if he stays healthy this season, he'll be one of the top three tight ends in the league. Their defense last year left a lot to be desired, but with the additions of rookie Patrick Willis, and defensive backs Nate Clements and Michael Lewis, you have to think this unit will improve. It also helps playing in the NFC West, arguably the worst division in the entire league. But I like the Cardinals here -- yes, I know, they were supposed to break out last year, too -- if their offensive line holds up (and the addition of rookie Levi Brown should help), their offense is going to be scary: Leinart, Edge, Fitzgerald, Boldin and even Leonard Pope help to make up a formidable unit. On the other side of the ball, where the Cards ranked 23rd in the league, they have some playmakers as well: Dockett, Dansby, Wilson, and Rolle. I also think rookies Buster Davis and Alan Branch will gain significant and meaningful playing time as the season wears on.

As for the Texans: I'm sorry, but I don't see it. I mean, look at their depth chart on offense. Is Schaub really even an upgrade over David Carr? Dropping back behind that line, I have my doubts about him. Ahman Green is 30 and, did I mention, the Texans have a pretty brutal O-line? Defensively, call me crazy, but I think Mario Williams will have a double-digit sack season. Thrown in Dunta Robinson, Okoye, and DeMeco Ryans, and you have the makings of a young, improving defense. It's just not going to happen this year, not with the Colts and Jags as strong as they are. But hey, Texans fans, you do have the best blog of any newspaper writer out there. Personally, I think Cincinnati makes the jump this year out of the AFC. Can you call a team who finished 8-8 a candidate to be a "surprise" team this season? Probably not. But look at the AFC standings from last year: only five teams finished under .500, and I see the possibility of only either the Jets or Dolphins climbing to at least nine wins this year. But I like my chances better with the Bengals winning 11 or 12 games -- look at their schedule, it's pretty manageable.


While I certainly don't think Chicago will duplicate last season's success, I don't see them falling off the radar either, if only because of one thing: they play in the NFC North. Who else is going to win that division? I actually like everything about Minnesota except for their quarterback situation, but that's kind of a tough shortcoming to overcome. The Bears play on the road at San Diego (one of the best match-ups of the year), Philadelphia, and Seattle; they also have Dallas, Denver, and New Orleans at home; and they have what I would consider three gimme games at Detroit, Green Bay, and Oakland, although playing on the road is never easy. What am I trying to say here? I'm not really sure, except that I can see the Bears taking this division with nine wins. The team I see falling hard in the NFC is Seattle, a team FO ranked as the 25th best team in the league last year. If Shaun Alexander cannot return to form, this team is going to collapse; I just have that feeling. This is not an easy way to begin your season: you can't see them starting out 1-5?

Finally, I'm having a tough time projecting for the Ravens. The last six games on their schedule are going to be brutal (Seattle is a great home team), McNair is a year older, and McGahee is coming off an uninspired season in Buffalo. In short, their offense is going to be mediocre. But oh, that defense -- it's just so good, even after losing Adalius Thomas to New England, and it will keep them in many games. I think they're going to come close to snagging that final wild card spot in the AFC, but will ultimately fall short (note: prediction subject to change). One team that I think will definitely fall short of the playoffs is the New York Jets, a team that FO had ranked as only the 19th best team in the league last season. While I like the addition of Thomas Jones in the backfield, I don't see enough firepower coming from their passing game, and their defense will not hold up in road games against the Ravens, Patriots, Cowboys, and Bengals, among others.