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NFC South


Feeling the pressure Sean Payton Turns to His Mentor Bill Parcells

Chris Mortenson reported that Sean Payton asked his mentor and retired former Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells to consider coaching the Saints while he’s suspended for a year. As you know, Payton’s suspension is due to the fact that the Saints ran a bounty program under his watch and lied to the NFL about it for about 2 years.  As numerous reporters have pointed out, even an “interim” coaching job would set Parcells another 5 years back for Hall of Fame consideration so the likelihood of Parcells taking over for Payton is pretty low. He could, however, fill in for GM Mickely Loomis who is suspended until week 8 but even that seems like a stretch from where I sit. Obviously, that means nothing as stranger things have happened.

In fact, the mere thought of Payton and Parcells discussing such a move is strange itself. Why would Payton want to subject the team to an entirely different coaching style (Payton is known for being a good listener and a flexible leader, Parcells, however, is not) that, if things go as planned, would only be for a year anyway? Would it not make more sense for Steve Spagnuolo to double as DC and HC…at least then-assuming Spags doesn’t flee for another HC position after next season-players would be adapting to a style that they’d have to get used to anyway.

But the mentor-mentee relationshp is an influential one. And like any good mentor Parcells has had a lasting impact on Payton.  In 2010, Jeff Duncan mentioned in the Times-Picayne that when Payton first took over as HC of the Saints, the halls seemed haunted by Parcells:

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Columnists: Please use more care when writing about the bounty scandal

SI quotes former linebacker Junior Seau (pictured above) as saying "When you say bounty and you talk about intentionally taking someone out, in essence you're talking about affecting his livelihood. That's not football."

There are so many conversations springing from the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal that the waters got muddied too quickly. In the rush to make the point that “bounties are no big deal” or “all bounties or extra payments are terrible and unacceptable” people are forgetting to make some key distinctions. One is the distinction between trying hard to make a big hit or play and intentionally trying to injure someone, the second is a distinction between rewarding a player for making a tough play vs rewarding a player for injuring an opponent.

Those things are absolutely and unequivocally not the same, and I don’t understand why many writers don’t see it or haven’t made a better effort to point it out to the public. Guys get injured on fairly minor plays (think Eagles Jason Babin smushing Cowboys Tony Romo’s hand against his helmet) and bounce back up from hard hits and play the next snap (think Darren Sharper destroying Kevin Faulk who bounces up after the play like a Bop Bag). A hard hit is not necessarily an attempt to injure nor is an injury guaranteed. That’s why tying rewards to injuries goes beyond asking guys to make a play, and crosses the line over to encouraging them to do something beyond that like twisting an ankle at the bottom of a pile or hitting late or low.

Ethically, paying players extra for a hard hit violates nothing in the game except the collective bargaining agreement as incentives should be included in contracts and counted against the salary cap. But paying players under the table for hurting another person is the part that is wrong, and no amount of excuses is going to make that feel right when it’s considered thoughtfully.

I also think some are grossly out of touch with players especially the modern player. Today’s players are even more concerned about their fellow man than guys in the past. Nowadays, guys consider themselves to be a part of a very elite fraternity. Many played together in college, some party together, they tweet each other, express a desire to play together, narrate each other’s profiles, and so on. Even fierce rivals like Terrell Suggs and Hines Ward will appear on TV together. The vast majority of players are NOT out to injure each other though they may be ready and excited about inflicting a little pain in the name of good football. And, of course, occasionally there may be a moment of anger where they DO try to injure whoever has pissed them off but that does not reflect most players’ general approach to their jobs. Besides, many times those angry plays tend to stand out (think: N’damukong Suh on Thanksgiving Day).

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Falcons Matt Ryan says he’s “excited” about working in Koetter’s system

Matt Ryan sat down with the Atlanta Falcons for a short Q&A. One of the questions was about the addition of Dirk Koetter from the Jags and his vertical passing system.

JA: Speaking of Koetter, he’s a coach with a history of relying on vertical passing, and he says he’s big on the screen game. What do you think of what you’ve heard of his system so far?

MR: I’m excited about it. I think you always learn different things from different coaches and I think all great competitors are always eager to learn more. I view it as that opportunity to learn more and try and add to my knowledge about the game and, ultimately, my productivity when I get on the field. I think he’s got some really good ideas and understands the personnel we have here, and certainly after free agency and the Draft, we’ll have a better idea of what we’re going to look like next year, but I’m excited about it. You mentioned the screen game and the vertical passing stuff, I think there’s some things we’ve done well in that category, but certainly those are two areas I think we can be better and his expertise in that area I think will help.

I fretted over the Koetter hiring here. But I’m staying positive that my Birds will get it right. Since then, they’ve hired Mike Nolan as Defensive Coordinator and that decision made me happy.

If nothing else, my coaches are a darned good looking group! That’s gotta count for…something.




Atlanta Falcons Hire of Dirk Koetter Has Me Concerned About Offense’s Direction

Atlanta Falcons management seems to think Ryan can be a gun slinger. But evidence points to the contrary. What do you think?

I was holding off on writing a post on the Falcons until I could completely gather my thoughts. But before I even had a handle on what I thought of the Falcons disastrous showing in their one lowly playoff game-and what I’d like to see them do next-I find out that they’ve hired a new OC in the form of Dirk Koetter from the Jags. The mere thought that someone who coached that Greek tragedy the Jaguars call an offense would go anywhere near my precious Falcons caused me to panic immediately.

Wait, let’s go back. I actually had already began to panic when Brian Schottenheimer of 59-passes-for-Mark-Sanchez-in-one-game fame was mentioned as a frontrunner. AJC’s Jeff Schultz must have received a lot of panicked feedback from readers when he posted on Schotty because he mentioned to me on twitter that my reaction of “PLEASE GOD NO” had been the standard response. Thankfully, the Rams seemed prime to add Schottenheimer to their staff of apparent rejects. But even so, Schultz wasn’t as panicked as the rest of us when it came to Schotty. He did, however, share my disbelief about Koetter.

Schultz writes:

I’ve long made it a practice to not pre-judge coaches. We’ve seen enough examples of guys who can win the press conference but lose on the field, and vice versa.

That said, the Falcons’ hiring of Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator isn’t going to spark any block parties.

Koetter has been working for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who this season finished 32nd in total offense, 32nd in passing and 28th in scoring – which wouldn’t be so bad if the NFL had, say, 100 teams and not 32. The assumption in Flowery Branch must be that there’s only so much a coach can do with Blaine Gabbert.

Koetter has been a known candidate from the outset. The news of his hiring was first leaked Sunday morning by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, and has since been confirmed by the team.

The second sentence of Koetter’s bio in the Jacksonville media guide begins, “Known for his expertise of the passing offense …” In his first season as Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator in 2007, the Jaguars finished seventh in total offense, 17th in passing and sixth in scoring. That also was Mike Smith’s last season in Jacksonville, before he was hired as Falcons’ head coach.

But this is what has happened to the Jaguars’ offense since:

• 2008: 20th total offense (15th passing), 24th scoring.

• 2009: 18th total offense  (19th passing), 24th scoring.

• 2010: 15th total offense  (27th passing), 18th scoring.

• 2011: 32nd total offense (32nd passing), 28th scoring.

I think Schultz nails the concern about Koetter’s actual ability to do his job so I won’t touch on that here.

I’d rather talk about my concern that this hire seems to suggest that the Falcons are taking their offense further in a direction that Matt Ryan seems uncomfortable with (and Roddy White for that matter). When I mentioned that Ryan appeared uncomfortable all season to Schultz he countered with the fact that Ryan’s protection left much to be desired this year as in it factored into his struggles (I swear this twitter chat between Schultz and I was way shorter than it sounds here). I agreed with Schultz’s point; however, Ryan has some issues with throwing the ball that protection won’t solve. Protection won’t solve the speed of his release, nor will it put enough velocity on his balls to prevent them from floating into the receivers’ hands and chancing injury with every completion.

My hope for the Falcons was that they would focus on a two back two tight end system and reverse their decision to make the deep game their hallmark. The decision to hang their hats on the deep game was highlighted by trading an arm and four legs for rookie Julio Jones in last year’s draft.  A year later, the Jones pick has grown on me, but I maintain that Ryan has not shown himself to be the kind of quarterback that benefits all that much from having two deep threats. He is one of the worst QBs at throwing deep despite having TWO receivers that can successfully get quickly downfield and even jump out of double coverage.

What good is having Roddy White and Julio Jones with all that glorious athleticism if we can’t trust Ryan to zip the ball near their hands? On top of that, Ryan also doesn’t seem to be much for throwing guys open. Thus, he needs strong route runners with good timing and a strong intermediate passing game more than a strict run or high-degree-of-difficulty long pass game with its biggest surprise factor being the no huddle.

It may sound like I’m down on Ryan, and I promise I’m not really. I’m down on the Falcons’ strategy thus far. Early last week when Ravens QB Flacco was complaining about the media only respecting guys that throw all the time I think he had a point. If guys aren’t throwing constantly, the nasty “game manager” phrase comes up. Game manager has become the default derogatory phrase for quarterbacks people don’t think are good (just like “system QB’ has become the default way to insult a QB who has been successful). And I fear the Falcons have bought that thinking as well.

There’s no shame in emphasizing shorter passing routes and pushing a solid ground game. There’s no shame in a balanced offense. And there’s certainly no shame in building an offense around the quarterback you have-not the one you wish you had. Maybe I’ll turn out to be wrong and the Falcons will either balance the offense in Ryan’s favor OR Ryan will become the gun slinger the Falcons seem to think he is or can be. But right now the beginning steps in this very necessary Falcons overhaul has me really concerned about next year.







The Atlanta Falcons Offensive Linemen Are Football’s “Mean Girls”

Giants DE Justin Tuck thinks the Falcons ARE SO MEAN!

All season long other teams’ players have been hemmin and hawing about how “dirty” the Atlanta Falcons offensive line is. First Ndamukong Suh said it, then BJ Raji of the Green Bay Packers and now Justin Tuck of the Giants.

To recap.

Suh said:

There are many, many, many plays that I could go back to that I watch on film all week that their offensive line has done,” Suh said Monday, “and that they’ve been coached to do, as far as I know. It’s not anything that’s not been said; it’s not anything that’s new.

Cliff Avril said:

You watch film of Atlanta’s O-line and they’re 20, 30 yards down the field cutting guys,” Avril told the website. “You’re running toward the pile and they’re trying to clean you up. Everybody was protecting themselves. I guess since they couldn’t clean us up in piles because guys were aware of it, they decide to make it like we’re the dirty players.

BJ Raji:

Great teams don’t indulge in the kind of cheap stuff the Falcons do. We’re the (defending Super Bowl) champions and we play that way. We walk away from the stuff they pull. These guys are coached to play after the whistle.

Ryan Pickett

It’s unnecessary. They call it playing physical. But it’s after the whistle. It’s not physical. We know it watching tape that you they like to hit after the whistle. You have to watching yourself around the piles.

And Justin Tuck finished it by calling the Falcons O-linemen dirt bags.

Just to be clear, the Offensive line has been accused of bad blocking, playing after the whistle, taking cheap shots, and just generally being not nice.


Mean they may be, but the flags are not flying.

The numbers back up the Falcons. Not only were Atlanta offensive linemen whistled for only one personal foul and a mere three illegal-use-of-hands penalties all season, but they also picked up just seven holding penalties in 1,073 snaps (just once every 134 snaps).

No wonder the famously mild-mannered Smith raised his voice yesterday in defense of his unit.

“Our offensive line is a very passionate, aggressive group of guys who play the game the way we want it to be played,” the coach said.

Asked if he thought his linemen ever cross the line, Smith shot back: “No, I do not — not one bit whatsoever. We want to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football, and it’s mano a mano down there. It’s the trenches.”

As a Falcons fan I’m finding it hard not to beam with pride, especially with the way the linemen defended themselves (you can see what they said when you click on the link above the quote). Now y’all know I’m all for guys following the rules, though like the guys at Deadspin said, all football players are dirty especially when it comes to the pile. However, the whining about blocking technique that is legal but not preferred due to the danger it can cause is just…well…whiny.

This is one thing I’ll be watching during the Falcons/Atlanta playoff game this weekend. Not to see if the Falcons are doing anything wrong (I know they never would! *innocent face*) but to see if the officials throw the Giants a bone or two. Sometimes whining pays.

Sidebar: maybe it’s the Eagles/Falcons fan in me but after listening to the Giants talk all week leading up to the Jets game and now leading up to the Falcons game I wouldn’t mind if the whole team came down with laryngitis.

PS: Credit to my “twin” @lovecrissle for giving the Falcons Offensive line the name “mean girls.” Finally, a Saints fan was good for something. ahhahaah




Roddy White Admits Matt Ryan’s Deep Passes Ain’t Really What’s Up

Apparently Roddy White was raised to believe that (brutal) honesty is the best policy.

As a fan of both the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles (I love saying that cause it pisses people off ^_^) I find that my favorite Falcon and my favorite Eagle both have the same personality trait — BRUTAL HONESTY. Asante Samuel said earlier this year that the Eagles front office was playing “fantasy football” and Roddy White has now admitted to the press that Matt Ryan’s deep passes might don’t make it.

Here’s where it gets interesting: The second question was again about the deep ball, but this time a more general question about timing and difficulty.

“I have no idea,” said White. “I don’t even know the answer for it. I don’t know, I think we should just scrap it and just do something else. We should just do some other things. We’ve missed a lot of them this year. I don’t really have an answer — we hit them at practice. We just can’t seem to hit them in a game.”


White laughed after he made this statement, but it wasn’t a really convincing laugh. The assembled media gave him a chance to take the statement back, or give us a ‘just kidding’, but that didn’t happen.

White gave more of his feelings.

“We’ll probably do some different things,” said White about what the Falcons should do instead of throw the ball deep. “Maybe a few more timely passes, things like that to get the ball out of Matt’s hands and get it to us to see if we can make some people miss and get explosive plays like that.”

And that was that. Apparently White feels the offense should take the deep pass out of the playbook.

I’m still not convinced White wasn’t speaking tongue-in-cheek on Wednesday. But, he had every chance to give us a wink to let us know he was just playing around. That wink never came. White finished up with the media and left for positional meetings.

Well I find this honesty refreshing…he was nice about it. And it’s no secret. The subject of floating zipless passes came up with Vince Young taking over for Michael Vick the last couple weeks and Matt Ryan has a similar problem. Though, at least Ryan’s issue is limited to deep passes. Young’s ball velocity (is that a real phrase) is affected by even the shortest passes. Those kinds of balls are 1. more likely to be intercepted and 2. more likely to get your receiver hurt.

This goes back to a big gripe that I had with the Falcons drafting Julio Jones. It seemed to me that the Falcons were trying to make Matt Ryan into the type of QB that he’s really not. Most offenses are pass heavy nowadays but I never expected Matt Ryan to be able to take advantage of two wide receivers who should be used often on deep routes. Now Julio could just as well develop into a versatile receiver in the NFL-he’s been impressive so far- and Roddy has a full arsenal of routes and beats double coverage even across the middle as well as anybody.

But you kinda get the sense that this offense is being taken further in a direction Ryan isn’t comfortable with just yet. Roddy is just the first player to admit it publicly.

As a fan of both teams my mind has wandered to what Michael Vick could do with Roddy White right this second. When Vick was still in Atlanta *painful flashback* White was a fresh faced rookie.




NFL Kickoff: Green Bay Packers Still Rare Combo of Fundamentals and Excitement

Greenbay Packers Cornerback Charles Woodson

Packers Cornerback Charles Woodson needs his ass beat!

The NFL welcomed us fans back in style with a better opening game than they could have EVER hoped for. It was a high-scoring, low-penalty, uppercutting (whaaat?!?!) kind of game that was so uptempo I felt my heart rate going up despite at least 10 boring ass’d touchbacks.

This ain’t ESPN or your local newspaper so I’m not gonna recap the game. But I’ll give a few of my observations:

Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are two of the best QBs in the league. This is a Captain Obvious sort of thing. But Rodgers breezed through plays and made everything from footwork to back shoulder throws look effortless. Brees threaded the needle on some pretty impressive passes and I don’t remember even one interception.  I had no idea that the Saints were in some sort of contract dispute with Brees but they might want to go ahead and empty their wallets right away. As the Packers D threw Brees myriad looks they actually showed him on the sidelines flipping through pages tryin to figure out his next move. In a game like this one, a lesser QB would’ve cracked. In this instance I can guess that Brees was quite a help to Saints Coach Sean Payton who seemed to be struggling with play calling.

Example: pass play on 4th an inches.

Looks at rookie power runner Mark Ingram.

Now at the kicker.

Now back at Mark Ingram.

Now back at the kicker.

Now back at Mark Ingram.

Sadly, Sean Payton didn’t look at either of them :(

This was one of those games that felt a lot more one-sided than it was simply because one team made it look effortless (Packers) and the other team made it look tiresome (Saints).

The Saints D is change you probably can’t believe in. Coming into the season there were certain supposedly good defenses that I was skeptical about. The Saints D is one of them (along with the Ravens and pre-infirmary Giants). Roman Harper is bearing the brunt of the criticism just like most defensive backs do cause hey, who really sees when a linebacker or defensive end messes up. I’m not saying Harper is playing on an elite level, but the reality is the Packers offense was doing whatever they felt when they wanted to.  Blown coverages aren’t just the result of one failing secondary player.

Ultimately the defense needs to gel, and the Saints front and secondary weren’t on the same page. And worse, they seemed content to settle for stopping the gain after passes were caught. And against a team like the Packers that simply won’t do. Now if we want to talk about the secondary, I will say Rodgers looked completely bored by the Saints pass rush. Harper did manage to sack him with 6 minutes left in the game but umm…yeah so…mmhmm yeah.

Long story short: The Saints were competitive with an elite team so there’s no need to put Roman Harper’s car on blocks…yet.

The Packers are that rare combo of fundamentally sound and exciting. The thing I hate most about the Packers is that they’re impossible to hate. Fundamental football teams are always more interesting than fundamental basketball teams (think New England Patriots vs. San Antonio Spurs) but the Packers don’t just give flashes of brilliance they produce eye-popping plays all game. If they continue on like this, they will breeze through the season. Remember, last year they had about 16 players on IR by mid-season. They come into this season pretty healthy and not at all rusty by the looks of it.

I will tell you what IS rusty though, that Lambeau Leap. I can do without it. It’s one thing when there’s a few scores in a game, but when you have a college basketball scoring numbers every time a scorer Lambeau leaps I wanna leap through my screen and helmet to helmet hit him. And I’m an actual dirty player not a media-exaggerated one like Ndamukong Suh.

If Ingram’s knee holds up the Saints will have a bright run game. Saints took a bit of a chance drafting an RB who already had knee surgery before he ever played a down in the NFL. But Ingram, though semi-misused in this game, had a great showing tonight and he’s looks as though he will add a lot to the team. Darren Sproles is the teeniest little running back my eyes ever did see, but boy was he something else last night.  A lot of talk on twitter about Reggie Bush (perhaps he’s the only Saints player some Saints fans knew? I’m sure they can name all the Falcons RBs though… No shots!) but Sproles game is come-pleat-lee different.

To say that Sproles gives them a more consistent run option is like saying it’s been raining in DC all week. Okay, and? Bush isn’t just a running back. When healthy he’s a playmaker that gives you more than one option out of the slot. Maybe Sproles will be a playmaker too, he certainly showed some potential, but comparing grapefruits to watermelons has never been my thing. But  I guess when you’re main motivation is to make jokes, mock and slander, those comparisons come in handy. woop dee do! Besides, at 5’6 Sproles has an advantage: it’s hard to tackle somebody you can’t even see from your vantage point.

Charles Woods needs his ass beat. So during the game Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, who says he’s the most complete player in the league (no disrespect, but I can only guess he gets his information from Fox News), uppercut one of the Saints players and managed to get away with it. Now Woodson’s weight is listed at 200lbs. I would guess him at slightly less. At any rate, in high school the security cameras allegedly caught me pushing a 200+lbs dude down the steps after he made a snide comment about my side ponytail, may he rest in peace (I didn’t kill him, he died years later). So there’s no reason Woodson should have still be standing after what he did. Who dat dem gonna uppercut dem saints. Woodson I guess.

Bottom line: I hate the Saints and I want to hate the Packers. One more Lambeau Leap or win over the Falcons and I’m sure I will accomplish my goal.

If remembered anything wrong, cuss me out/correct me in the comments section.  I’m not rewatching any games cause, again, I ain’t your local reporter. I’m your neighborhood blogger. Get into me!



Jeremy Shockey Saves Teammate’s Life After He Chokes on Pork Tenderloin

This might be the funniest headline I’ve ever written.

According to National Football Post, Carolina Panthers Tight End Jeremy Shockey saved fellow tight end Ben Harstock’s life when he almost choked on a piece of pork tenderloin in the team cafeteria.

It’s more of a story with a good ending than it is a funny one. Hartsock tried drinking some water to clear his throat and when that didn’t work it became evident to others in the room he could not breathe.

“He started to go to the bathroom and I don’t know if he collapsed, but he couldn’t breathe,” McCartney said. “Some new guy came and tried to give him the Heimlich. It didn’t work. Then, Shockey hit him in the back pretty hard and out came the meat. The Panthers told me it was really scary.

“Ben told me Shockey came over and gave me the Heimlich Maneuver and saved my life. He was in good spirits and he’s real thankful for Shockey.”

This has been a week full of heroics by NFL players.

If you didn’t hear, Baltimore Ravens rookie Wide Receiver Tandon Doss broke up a knife fight in Baltimore at Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Doss said he was not worried about his personal safety when he intervened.

“I mean, it was two dudes on one,” he said with a shrug. “I was trying to help the situation out. I broke it up.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he was not aware of Doss’ role in the fight.

“I’m not on Twitter,” he said. “I’ll be looking into that.”

Doss downplayed any description of his involvement as being heroic.

“I saw the guy on the ground bleeding, and I saw a guy on top hitting him,” he said. “So I stopped it.”

WELCOME TO BALTIMORE TANDON!!! As aggressive as the Ravens play, it’s good that Doss is already showing he isn’t afraid of a fight. I expect big things from him against the Steelers. That’s the real test.

And finally, some positive news about Bryant McKinnie. Not only did he sign with the Ravens after being cut from the Vikings for being out of shape, he also donated all the contents of his Minnesota home to charity rather than taking everything with him to Baltimore.

Former Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie has decided to donate the furniture and appliances from his Eden Prairie home to a local chartity, his publicist said today.

“All of my furniture in my old home is practically new and in decent condition, I look at this as a positive way to move to my new location, while still providing families in need of appliances and household goods,”



NFL Quarterback Crisis: My Biggest Gripe With A World Where Rex Grossman Has Options

Tavaris Jackson had a few chances in Minnesota and didn't deliver. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll thinks a stable situation will turn his play around.

I feel like I’ve gone on too much about the dearth of talent at the QB position in the NFL. But since there has been a bunch of movement at the QB spot over the two weeks, I suppose it’s appropriate to discuss it really briefly again.

Redskins QB Rex Grossman turned down a longer term offer with the Redskins preferring to sign a one year contract and keep his options open. On one hand, given Grossman’s previous performances, this could serve as a prime example of the audacity of NOPE. But, since the current NFL will now boasts Snap-starved Tavaris Jackson at the helm for the Seahawks and a very unproven Kevin Kolb taking 30 million + to take over the Arizona Cardinals, Grossman’s comment almost seems acceptable.


Middling QBs are having the best year ever! And rookies that have to start right away might be having the worst. I’ll be interested to see how football commentators assess Andy Dalton and Cam Newton as they lead the disastrous Bengals and win-deficient Panthers from day 1. Both rookies will have it tough.

As for Rex Grossman, he is still going to have to “compete” for the starting spot in Washington with some dude named John Beck who I was going to research but lost interest half way through. In fact, I don’t plan to mention the Redskins much at all this year. As I’ve been told, “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”

The main thing that is disappointing to me about bad quarterbacking is the impact it has on receivers. I’m rooting for Kolb to be good because I want Larry Fitzgerald to be good. I’m rooting for Tavaris Jackson to succeed because I want Sidney Rice to succeed. And so on. This is one thing to keep in mind as you build fantasy teams…who’s getting your guy the ball? Anyway, a great receiver on a team with a bad QB makes me feel like I’m being cheated out of something great.

All the more reason for the NFL to think about how it can better nurture and preserve QB talent.

A little bit on good cap management

Everyone was wondering how the Philadelphia Eagles could sign so a many high value players and remain under the salary cap. Peter King sums it up.

Understand this principle to start: The Eagles were not in bad cap shape to begin with. When free agency opened they were at $99 million in commitments to veterans and draft choices. (More about those later.) They had shed big veteran salaries over the last couple of years — including quarterback Donovan McNabb’s — and by opening day 2010 had the third-youngest 53-man roster in football. Young means salary manageable.

As of Sunday morning, the Eagles’ projected roster (there’s some guesswork here, but it’s close) consisted of 35 players with cap numbers of $1.5 million or less. And only six players — quarterback Mike Vick ($16.1 million cap number), cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha ($10 million), cornerback Asante Samuel ($9.34 million), tackle Jason Peters ($6.54 million), and defensive ends Jason Babin ($5.3 million) and Trent Cole ($5 million) — had cap figures of $5 million or more.

King goes on to say:

Not including Asomugha, the eight free agent signings and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who came from Arizona in the Kevin Kolb trade, have zero dollars promised to them for 2012 and beyond. There are years remaining on contracts, yes. But guarantees, no.

Point is, this is the kind of cap situation that can absorb Vick at $16.1 million this year, and Asomugha at $10 million this year and $11 million next year. And the kind of cap that can accommodate a very good player like Cullen Jenkins, the best rush defensive tackle on the market, who never saw the market develop for him the way he thought it would.

Jenkins thought his first-choice team, Philadelphia, wouldn’t sign him after giving Asomugha a four-year, $48-million contract. The Eagles convinced Jenkins they still wanted him badly, but just couldn’t pay him what they’d been discussing pre-Nnamdi. After a night to think about it, Jenkins decided he’d rather play where he wanted for $4 million than to go to a Cincinnati-type team for more money. Jenkins figures he’ll still have another payday if he outperforms this contract in the first year or two. The reputation of the Eagles helped — as did some players’ desire to play on Vick’s team.

One more thing about the Eagles’ cap. It’s not the league’s number of $120.38 million per team. It is actually $125.58 million. That includes $2.2 million in what the league calls “reallocation credits” from the last capped year, 2009, when the Eagles didn’t spend to the cap, and the $3 million every team can borrow from a future cap year to support veteran player costs this season.

Love that King mentions guys wanting to play with Vick, and if you haven’t checked my Vick bromance post, you should.




Peter King Says He Was “Stiffed” By Carolina Panthers Cam Newton

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King is doing his tour of football camps this week. According to his tweets, while at Carolina’s camp he was refused an interview by Cam Newton. King, a sacred cow in the NFL world-for those who don’t know, complained that his long-running “Monday Morning Quarterback” column comments about Newton would be “odd” cause Newton isn’t quoted.

If you remember, Peter King was the one that interviewed Cam Newton when he made his infamous “icon” statement. That was when he said “I see myself not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon.” That sent the NFL world snark machine at Pro Football Talk and beyond on a rampage. Perhaps that’s why Cam was hesitant. Since then Newton has been a star at dealing with the media and hasn’t made any additional missteps.

Though I still enjoy King’s column and there’s no denying the impact he can have on the image of players, I find he can uncomfortably biased sometimes. For example, his decision to blame the Steelers Super Bowl loss almost solely on Running Back Rashard Mendenhall didn’t sit right with me, in light of all the mistakes my favorite QB Ben Roethlisberger made in addition to the near-absence of Safety Troy Polamalu and Linebacker James Harrison.

I suppose this is an FYI post. It’s kind of fun to read King’s column and play guessing games about who he likes and who he doesn’t. Plus, the writing and information makes his MMQB column worth reading no matter how you feel about him personally. It’s one of the few long form columns I read regularly.

Quick note: I think that this might be a nod to how much media is changing. ESPN and Sports Illustrated aren’t the only media outlets in town. There’s a zillion other ways for players to get stories out. Whether it be via blogs like this one or even TMZ, which I’m noticing is a site where more PR folks are increasingly placing stories on football players. Soon, there probably won’t be as many sacred cow reporters.

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