Saturday, July 31, 2010
The Knee Bone's Connected to the Ankle Bone: UPDATE
Already-hated Cowgirl Dez Bryant has a high ankle strain, which is a significant tearing of ligaments that sometimes requires surgery. The rookie is expected to miss 4-6 weeks: all of training camp. Gonna blame the media for this, too? Might as well: the owner is already blaming the coach!
And Fatty Albert Haynesworth was unable to fail his third conditioning test today because of swelling in his knee. Yeah, he really is in great football shape. Hopefully his knee will be well enough for him to fail the conditioning test tomorrow. I'm just glad that Albert is the punchline, not my whole team like last year.
Check this: DE Philip Daniels says “[Albert] looks good. You can tell he’s in way better shape than last year." This is way better? Yikes.
SUNDAY UPDATE: On Sunday, Fatty was again held back from attempting the conditioning test by swelling in his knee. Hopefully it's just his ego getting rendered and dripping down. See you in Oakland, Fatty!
Finally, a major ACL injury to Baltimore Ravens CB Foxworth will keep him out for the year. The Ravens, despite their great balance, are injury-depleted in the secondary. Losing a starting CB will further retard their playoff potential. This is the first significant injury of the 2010 season. Hopefully there won't be many more ... except for assholes!
One Year Anniversary: Ron Coomer Gettin' Rubbed
Friday, July 30, 2010
Fat People Puking
In a thematically-related story, that fat slob who puked on people at the Phillies game pled guilty and will be sentenced to 1-3 months of jail. For puking!
Thank Gibbs there were no authorities around on my twenty-first birthday. I'd still be on the chain gang.
DC Skins 2010 Training Camp: the first day
Of note: Terrell Davis, Steve Atwater, Chris Samuels and Michael Pittman are coaching interns for the Skins this year. It's through the Minority Coaching Fellowship and I'm damn excited to have these stars helping my team. If this were still the Cerrato era, we would have signed them all for billions of dollars.
FS Chris Horton apparently had the hit of the day, breaking up a reception. He is trying to regain the position he lost due to injury. The battle for FS is the only serious competition in the defensive backfield.
RB Larry Johnson, who grew up as a Skins fan in the area, continues to sprint to the end zone on almost every run. I think he is taking the competition at RB seriously.
DT Albert Haynesworth, who failed his fitness test and did not play, was nonetheless well-received by fans.
Finally, a fan proposed to his girlfriend with the help of TE Chris Cooley, who produced the ring out of his athletic cup. Or something like that.
Will every moment of meaningless DC Skins fluff be "reported" on this site? Stay tuned!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Old School Thursday: Leaders of the New School
Armadillos Don't Understand Brett Favre's Hostility
10 Players You Love More Than Me? You Don't Even Know Me
Ten Players I Love More Than You. Wrong. And baby, there ain't no player worthy of your love like me, dig?
2 letter solution, the same 2 letter solution that I suggested a year ago, I might add:
Ten Players I Love More Than You Do. Boom, Fixed. You are welcome.
I don't like name-calling, but I think its justified given the (at least) 10 month life of this particular error--man, those Yahoo editors/writers are idiots.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
DC Skins 2010 Training Camp Eve: UPDATE
One positive refrain throughout the offseason was Coach Shanahan's disciplined, no-nonsense approach. The issue of Albert Haynesworth was the first great test of Shanahan in DC, and the coach didn't blink.
Haynesworth reportedly met with Coach Shanahan today, and has agreed to a fitness test, playing any position asked and practicing with the second team. Most of us would agree to that in exchange for the $21 million bonus Haynesworth picked up in April, yet it seemed unlikely that Haynesworth would play another down for DC.
The massive tackle could certainly be reporting only to make himself more attractive for a trade. But his price tag is steep and he's earned the enmity of GM's ... as well as fellow tackles. If Haynesworth is truly committed, he will be allowed to play strictly on Coach Shanahan's terms:
I'm expecting him to be in great shape. And if he's not in great shape, then we're going to do what we need to do to get him in shape. Once he gets to that point, hopefully he'll fit into our system and do the things we want him to do. Because, if he does, he can be an excellent football player for us. If not, we're going to be very good anyhow.Nonsense and indiscipline have been in copious supply for some time in DC. If Shanahan can successfully make Haynesworth a team player, it would cement the coach as the benevolent, autocratic leader.
There is no democracy in football. Perhaps Washington can achieve surprising things this season under the iron fist of Generalissimo Shanahan. The moon rises and butterflies flutter according to his glorious will!
UPDATE: Fat Albert Haynesworth failed his conditioning test. He will not be allowed to practice until he passes the test. Haynesworth is the only Washington player to fail a conditioning test in my memory. Remember, this is the highest-paid professional athlete on the team.
All we can hope is that this is the final collapsing stargasm of the Cerrato/Snyder era. I look forward to not seeing Haynesworth on the field in 2010. Everything negative which has been written about him (and brother, that's a lot of poorly-spelled comments) has been fully justified.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Goodbye Ramon and Ryan - We (Really) Hardly Knew Thee
I think, previously, there may have been an unspoken (or, hell, spoken) belief that Kahn was doing his best to rid the Wolves roster of any player that had been acquired in the McHale era--and he's come close, too. The only players of note left are Corey Brewer and Kevin Love.
But two of the players Kahn acquired himself last year are now out the door--Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins have been bid adieu, in favor of more cap-space, in the personages of Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair. Which is fine, but I'm not going to lie--I've been cautiously optimistic that Kahn has had a plan in place, and maybe part of that plan is to just rotate players in and out until he finds a set-up he likes. If he can continue to do it, and still cut space under the cap, and leave more room for that biggish Free Agent signing, great. But as the amount of money spent continues to shrink, I find myself pondering something Wolves writer Jerry Zgoda wrote a little while back:
NFL Training Camp
Amid enough self-congratulation to float the Hindendburg, Dallas is already providing injuries and hilarious/retarded spats between (guess who?) their wide receivers.
According to rookie Dez "What U Say Bout My Mama?" Bryant:
I didn't know nothing about no tradition. The only thing about me ... when I try to do something right, ya'll try and turn it negative and I don't feel like that's right. I'm trying my best to do the right thing but it seems like I can't do the right thing because every little thing that I do ya'll watching it and try to make a big deal out of it.Feel the burn, sucka! I smell blood in the water. They're calling it "Pad-Flap," I shit you not. I guess "Pad-gate" was already taken. Looking at you, Pope Nazi Pederast II.
Although other training camps will soon take away some attention, Dallas will remain under crippling scrutiny. Which is perfect, because when Washington steals the season opener, the overhyped Cowboys will crumble to dust, like old dry cat shit.
Washington opens their camp on Thursday, July 29th. Just in time I gleaned some tidbits acquired from Football Outsiders' Almanac. They are predicting 9.2 wins (what the hell?) and playoffs, despite the fact that "short-term success masks a long-term foundation that still resembles Swiss cheese."
The Almanac points out plenty of alarming statistics, but this chunk will be the last I hope to say about the unfairness of blaming Campbell for DC's 2009 woes ... he was hurried on 23% of his passes, most in the league. Call me stubborn, but that must improve this season.
I think it will.
Training camp is Xmas Eve. Every fan can see all the shiny presents under the tree, and their imaginations run free with delightful possibilities. For most, the disappointment of knit sweaters and walnuts in the stockings (what the hell?) will be abject. But until the morning, every fans' dreams are intact.
The entire NFC North will report on Friday, July 30th. These are the last teams to open camp. This weekend, I'll launch my 24-hour twitter page to keep you abreasted of all training camp developments.
Hail to DC Skins, Hail Victory!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Old School Thursday: A Tribe Called Quest
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Britt Robson's Top 10 Bad NBA Off-Season Moves
That said, The Wolves still make it onto his Top 10 worst signings of the NBA Off-season.
A Little Kernel in a Post on the Star Trib
Here's the quote: "In a league where teams often don't honor contracts after players have terrible seasons, it was good to see Chris Johnson get a nice and well-deserved pay bump after joining the elite class of runners to top 2,000 yards in a season. CJ was threatening to sit out rather than work for about 500 grand. I didn't blame him. That was his only piece of leverage."
The next time you hear the talking heads on ESPN complain about a guy who is sitting out a contract, even though that contract was front-loaded, remember the NFL contract is the least contract-y thing called a contract in professional sports. Players who have years left on their deal, and get injured, or just don't live up to their promise, can get cut, and they won't get paid for the length of their contract (which is funny, because you'd think that's what a contract guarantees). Is there another sport that talks more about "Guaranteed Money" than the NFL? I don't think so. Just sayin'. Bear that in mind.
Johnny Randle's Still Got It
Saturday, July 17, 2010
DC Skins Football 2010 Preview: Overview
Washington’s 2009 season ended with the final implosion of a failed regime, the curdled culmination of rotten management. The 4-12 team was a disaster, brought low by an offensive line gone to seed. Unable to run or pass protect, Washington was finished by week three when they lost to Detroit, who had dropped their previous nineteen straight, a league record.
The head coach was publicly emasculated and the team went fully off the rails. Verily, the 2009 Washington football team was bad, tied for the fifth-worst record in their 73 year history (see: the Unbearable Weight of Suck), and the worst season since Nerf Turner’s 3-13 opus in 1994.
Change was swift and powerful, like vengeful ewoks. GM Bruce Allen and Head Coach Mike Shanahan brought in a completely new offense, defense and QB. Rather than endure a rebuilding year, the team ordered up a smorgasboard of aging talent and hope that they can pare it down to a decent team. The offensive line was finally upgraded through drafting and free agency. The Haynesworth distraction has overshadowed the complete offseason overhaul of this veteran, underachieving team.
By loading up on veteran bodies, Washington is looking to compete. But with such a drastic overhaul, this team will be starting over from scratch in every phase except kick coverage. As always, the degree to which the offensive line solidifies will determine this football team’s fortunes. It may take another year of attending to that before the team can really move forward. I hope: a stable of workhorse RBs can set up the TEs and deep play-action passing, that the defense becomes dangerous in its new alignment, and that Washington finds a consistent kicker and a punt returner.
I fear: McNabb, running for his life just like Jason Campbell, goes down with an injury and Gross Rexman takes over, that the defense never settles in to play instinctively, and that special teams remain an after-thought.
A tough early schedule has some opportunities to win, but it will take until after the bye week before we see this team in working order.
All of their personnel improvements have come at a stiff price. While they might develop some chemistry eventually, this team will be too far behind to make the playoffs. Expect further dramatic personnel changes after the 2010 season. 7-9
DC Skins Football 2010 Preview: Offense
The talent level has improved with three new starters. Unfortunately, they don’t have a leader and the transition to zone-blocking and new pass protections will take a while. The backups are versatile but a big step down. While this unit will be better by mid-season, it’s going to take until the next year before this line solidifies into a firm foundation. They are asking a lot of rookie LT Trent Williams, who has all the tools but must take several giant steps forward to reach his potential.
Formerly a scrambler, McNabb can still use his legs to move the pocket & bootleg; his rocket arm is as powerful as ever. McNabb is a vocal and respected leader. His close-range accuracy isn’t the best, but he never throws INTs and is excellent in his ball distribution and decision-making. He will make his receivers better.
Injury concerns must be acknowledged: McNabb played all 16 games only once in the past five seasons. The backup will be Gross Rexman, a garbage pail kid who, unfortunately, is virtually assured of playing time this season. I can't believe this turd is on my team.
Running Back: B-
Competition at RB will eventually shake out a starter, and I’m betting that it will be Larry Johnson by mid-season. Incumbent Clinton Portis must heed the growing criticism of his work ethic. FB Mike Sellers did not have a good year, but if he bounces back he'll be a valuable lead blocker. This unit could combine for 350 carries and 1500 yards.
But if that doesn’t translate into TDs and wins, then character issues will demolish this position. Shanahan would have no problem starting over with a new backfield next year.
Wide Receiver: C+
This unit is flooded with applicants, and the position battles are wide open. Whether Washington will be able to ever threaten with three-receiver sets is a major question. They lack an elite #1 receiver but this unit could be successful with a proven QB and a decent run threat. Santana Moss, Devin Thomas and Bobby Wade are my projected starters.
Tight End: A-
The strength of the offense. Chris Cooley and Fred Davis are explosive athletes with good hands. Only decent run blockers, if used together they will create mismatches which McNabb can exploit at will. Mike Shanahan hasn’t had a TE this good since Shannon Sharpe, and Washington has two of them.
Offense Overview: C+
Washington hopes to run powerfully to set up a deep passing attack. On paper, Washington should run better than any team McNabb or (coordinator) Kyle Shanahan has ever had. However, the line remains a work in progress.
Playing to the team’s strengths would be using two tight ends as a base offense. This run-first look could hit the deep play-action pass with frequency. The double tight end formation is something to watch for in 2010.
Growing pains are very likely for this offense. Until skill position starters emerge and the line jells, points may be hard to come by. They’ll face some dangerous defenses in the first half of the season. Look for this offense to emerge after the bye, when they travel to Philadelphia on November 15th.
DC Skins Football 2010 Preview: Defense
Like WR, this unit has a flood of applicants. Daniels, Kemeatou and Carriker could anchor this group. I don’t believe Haynesworth will play a down for this defense, but they have enough bodies to clog traffic. Don’t expect any pass rush from this group, however.Linebackers: B-
The heart of the new 3-4 defense is a weakness. While star-in-the-making Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter can bring pressure, all of these linebackers will be playing out of position. They have excellent leadership with London Fletcher, but shortcomings in pass coverage will encourage other teams to attack the flat. A lack of honed 3-4 LB instincts will be a drawback all year.
This collection of underachieving 1st round picks will be asked to play a lot of man coverage. They have the potential to become a special unit, but big plays have eluded them for years. D. Hall, C. Rogers and P. Buchanon have coverage skills but need to contribute more in run support.
These two positions will allegedly be interchangeable next year, allowing for disguised coverage. Chris Horton needs to bounce back from IR and Laron Landry must turn the corner this year to become the best player he can be.
Last year, this position was victimized by double moves and should be embarrassed by missed tackles. Expect other teams to challenge these safeties until they prove themselves.Defense Overall: B
Washington’s reasons for switching to the 3-4 elude me. This unit hopes to use deception and surprise to keep other teams off-balance. It is not clear that they have enough pieces in place to dictate such terms to the offense.
Playing to the team’s strengths would be utilizing both 4-3 and 3-4 alignments. In keeping with the coverage disguises, changing up the front seven’s looks could prevent teams from taking advantage of some incipient weaknesses in personnel.
This defense will have to learn on the fly, playing against some of the best offenses in the league during the first half of the season. They should show some flashes, but I don’t see how this unit doesn’t take a step backwards.
DC Skins Football 2010 Preview: Special Teams
Punt and Kickoff coverage remain elite, which is why Coach Smith was retained. I expect them to remain at the top of their game.
This is a complete unknown, as Washington hasn’t decided on a KR or PR. These positions have been considered after-thoughts, and it shows. Returns were just awful last year, regardless of who received the ball.
Neither the P or K positions have been determined. Once again, Washington will invite a carnival of castoffs to try out.
Special Teams Overall: C-
This unit was responsible for Washington’s two best plays last year, both fakes that went for touchdowns. The player who made those plays is no longer with the team.
Better than that would be some consistency in the kicking game and in returns. A commitment to this unit is a necessity, because this football team isn’t strong enough to overcome poor special teams play.
Jim Souhan: Reasonable
Jim Souhan, you make some good, reasonable points this time around! Congrats!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Good God, Kelly Dwyer, We Get It--You Don't Like What David Kahn Is Doing
I mean, go ahead, and watch the video, and you'll see that David Kahn says some shit he probably shouldn't. That's one of the things I like about him. After how many years of the Kevin McHale brain trust, in which nothing was wrong, every player was awesome, we were just one Ricky Davis away, and (oh yeah) the NBA took away draft picks from us because we needed Joe fucking Smith just that badly, Kahn is a breath of fresh air.
I have no idea why national bloggers like Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo Sport's Ball Don't Lie have such an axe to grind with Kahn. The guy has been in charge for just about a year, and he's completely revamped a franchise that was old, tired and pretty much without hope. Some credit needs to go to the previous regime (McHale) for getting a decent deal for KG when it was time to ship him, but the series of missteps that regime made was so fucking ridiculous that I had completely given up on the team, as had the media. When Kahn's first season began, the Wolves were not on TV at all. He promised a losing season, and maybe two, and maybe a third, before he got his players in place. He's well on his way, and we will judge him on that, but this kind of shit drives me nuts. Let's go the Blogosphere-Tape:
It began on Wednesday, when the Al Jefferson trade was made official--the Wolves took their best player, who has knee injury issues, and a history of not really caring about defense (as everyone acknowledges), and was playing the exact same position as Kevin Love, and got two first round picks, and more cap space for their trouble, and big ol' Kosta Koufas, too. (To see why only getting 2 first round picks don't bother me, see here)
Kelly did not care for that trade for the Timberwolves, at all: "They're a mess. They got Kosta Koufos in the deal, and he might be worth taking a look at, but they've completely wasted all the assets they've had come through Minnesota over the last few years. Al Jefferson and Kevin Love couldn't play together, but this was the best deal possible? And is when you make the deal? For a trade exception and picks? Such a waste."
Past few years? Well, Kahn has only been in charge a year, so most of that isn't on him. Assets? Randy Foye? Mike Miller? I'd argue that the Wolves are a mess, but with purpose. A purposeful mess. As I'm sure Kelly Dwyer has noted--teams in the Central Time Zone don't do a great job attracting Free Agent Talent just because the city has such an allure. You have to have a team in place, one that seems like it is young and coming, not just struggling to finish 5 games over .500. If that means a couple of lost seasons to develop talent, so be it. LeBron left Cleveland; Dwayne Wade didn't seem to interested in returning to Milwaukee (something that went unremarked upon, for some reason). The Wolves struggling to 10th place wasn't a Big Seller, for some reason.
The anti-Kahn spirit continued on the next day. Discussing the Luke Ridnour signing, Dwyer said, "God, how Timberwolves fans wish David Kahn lived in a vacuum. A big, giant, sucky one."
I'm going out on a limb and assume that Dwyer wasn't here for the McHale years. I actually live in the Twin Cities, and let me tell you something--loud, talky, maybe crazy David Kahn doesn't bother us at all. We lived through the Joe Smith thing, the Nbudi Ebi thing, the Ricky Davis thing, the Troy Hudson ("T-Hud") thing, the Marko Jaric thing. Here's a quote from 2008 that I lived through, when the Timberwolves waived Theo Ratliff. Kevin McHale said, "This provides us an opportunity to play our younger post players - Craig Smith and Chris Richard - and give us more time to continue to evaluate them." Read those names again. We needed time to evaluate who? For what? I'll take crazy Kahn over reasonable McHale, and so will 95% of all Timberwolves fans.
When David Kahn came to the Wolves, not only was Craig Smith still a tradeable resource, so was Mark Madsen. MARK MADSEN. I don't think the likes of Kelly Dwyer get that. Mark Madsen wasn't on the bench; he was playing. Chris Richard was playing. Craig Smith was considered valuable. Tearing this franchise down to the foundation was welcomed by Minnesota fans.
Dwyer also thinks that signing Ridnour weakens the trade position that the Wolves have for Ramon Sessions. Except, it's just Ramon Sessions. We have a lot of point guards. Someone out there (Bobcats?) really needs one. I think we are OK if we have more point guards than we need. It's better than having fewer than we need, and I don't think Ramon Sessions is really worth this kind of screed: "As if people didn't think — after haggling for weeks last summer, and after watching the way coach Kurt Rambis completely misused Sessions throughout 2009-10 — that you couldn't give a rip whether he was on your roster or not?" Um, who cares if they know that or not? They need a point guard--the Wolves know that, too. And the Wolves have nothing to lose; they'll keep Sessions purely out of spite. I like that. I mean really, "Oh no, we may not get great value for...Ramon Sessions?" Yawn and Over the top Eye-roll commencing....now.
But what do the experts think of what David Kahn is up to? Locally, we have no idea. But screw our local beat writers, who spend all their time with the team--Kelly Dwyer has a "mate"--"If you're unfamiliar with Kahn's work, understand that a good mate of mine, completely unsolicited, sent me a text Wednesday using words I couldn't hope to replicate in polite company, whilst wondering out loud if the Wolves GM might be eligible for a certain type of bus pass."
Yes, let's all defer to Dwyer's unnamed, potentially idiotic "mate". Because, presumably, he understands how professional basketball management works. Why not? We don't know that he doesn't! Good enough for Dwyer, and so on.*
Dwyer goes on to discuss the admittedly crazy talk that I mentioned before--in which Kahn (shockingly, for a GM) talked up his players. Kahn essentially called Darko Milicic a great European style assist man. Dwyer thinks that's hilarious: "I have to say, Chris [Webber] was quite professional in refusing to add, 'I've seen a big man pass like him -Chris Mihm."
Hilarious, but not accurate, at all. Darko averaged close to 2 assists per game while with the Wolves, and Mihm, for his career, averaged .5 assists. I'm all for digs, but let's get them right, OK? That just makes you sound, I don't know, stupid?
Even after trashing Darko, Dwyer can compliment him, if only to trash the draft picks of Kahn: "Listen, signing Darko Milicic isn't the end of the world. Given starters minutes last season, he managed just under 12 points, two blocks and eight rebounds. And for a salary that is less than the league's average, this isn't completely and utterly terrible. It's not as if he's the free-agent equivalent of spending three lottery picks on Jonny Flynn, an uninterested Ricky Rubio, and Wesley Johnson."
It should be noted that if you give Darko starter minutes, he also probably averages about 3 assists a game, too. But that would get in the way of the joke Dwyer made earlier about Darko not being a very good passer. And what on God's Green Earth is wrong with Flynn and Johnson? I watched Flynn--he's got some growing to do, but there's no doubt he's an NBA point guard. I don't know why Dwyer is already dismissing Wes Johnson, a player that some folks who know basketball are pegging as a potential Rookie of the Year. Rubio's disinterest has been blown WAY out of proportion; he'll either be a Timberwolf next year, or he'll fetch a beautiful price on the market. What will Rubio see in the Wolves, as he waits out the Collective Bargaining Agreement?
He'll see Milicic and Pekovic at Center, both under 26 years of age; he'll see Love and Beasley at Power/Small Forward, with Martell Webster and Wes Johnson at small forward; he'll see Wayne Ellington at shooting guard, and he'll have Jonny Flynn pushing him. And a team with a ton of money to swing a sign and trade, if that's what it takes. That's a team that improves on last year's 15 wins. Guaranteed.
*Oh, and you know, I won't say anything bad about Kelly Dwyer myself, but I think it says something about his reporting that one of my friends emailed me and said, and I have to edit this to make it friendly for the families that read this blog, "That guy is a huge douche-nozzle, and I bet he's the kind of guy who masturbates to himself in the mirror."
I didn't say that--my "friend" did, so you know it is true.
Words I Heard From World Cup Commentators You Will Not Hear Chris Berman Say
pacey - moving "with pace", or speedy, quick. Ranking: 1
miserly: stingy (as in, "the defense has been downright miserly of late") Ranking: 2
howler: laughably bad. Can be a mistake by a player, but more often than not, a missed call by an offical. Ranking: 2
niggly: an adjective to suggest an overly officiated game--"niggly calls" would refer to a foul called over a very minor contact. Ranking: 3, but fear of mispronunciation gives it a bonus of +4
fractious--unruly, or a game about to get about of control. Berman wants to know if he can work in a pun involving denominators. Ranking: 6
remonstrate--to plead against a call in obvious fashion. See: Maradona. Ranking: 7
paucity: a lack; a small number. Ranking: 8, or "Whuh?"
obdurate: stubborn; resistant--like a tough defense, say. Ranking: 10.
Old School Thursday: The Pharcyde
Could Kevin Garnett Still Help the Timberwolves?
The short version is KG's original trade in 2007 just generated another two future First Round picks, via the Al Jefferson trade. But I'm counting five current (for now) roster slots being taken by folks who came directly or indirectly via that trade, with more still on the way. Thanks, KG!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
2010 NFL Preview: At-A-Glance
AFC East_____________________________________AFC South
Jets: A- ......................................................................................... Colts: B+
Patriots: B+ .................................................................................. Texans: B+
Dolphins: B- ................................................................................. Titans: B
Buffalo: C- ................................................................................... Jags: B-
AFC North____________________________________AFC West
Ravens: A- .................................................................................... Chargers: B
Bengals: B+ .................................................................................. Broncos: B-
Steelers: B .................................................................................... Chiefs: C+
Browns: C- ................................................................................... Raiders: C
NFC East_____________________________________NFC North
Dallas: B+ ..................................................................................... Vikings: A-
Philly: B- ...................................................................................... Packers: B
Washington: C+ ............................................................................ Bears: C
Giants: C- ..................................................................................... Lions: D
NFC South____________________________________NFC West
Saints: A- ...................................................................................... 49ers: B
Falcons: A- ................................................................................... Cardinals: C+
Carolina: C+ ................................................................................. Rams: C-
Bucs: C- ........................................................................................ Seahawks: C-
Monday, July 12, 2010
2010 NFL Preview: NFC East
Dallas Cowboys offense is potent but the talented WR corps could implode. The running game will be a constant threat. The line will give up more sacks this year and penalties are a problem. B+
Dallas Cowboys defense is dangerous and does not give up points. They excel versus the run and rushing the passer. Their defensive backfield is vulnerable in the red zone. A
Dallas Cowboys special teams have major question marks at kicker and kick returner. They are strong in punting and returning punts. B-
Dallas Cowboys overall will again be regular season monsters, but simply lack the character to win in the playoffs. Final Grade: B+
Philadelphia Eagles offense is drastically different and could struggle despite great young talent. The gamble on unproven QB Kolb could cost Reid his job. They’re thinking “Aaron Rodgers” but I’m thinking “Scott Mitchell.” C-
Philadelphia Eagles defense can still mount a pass rush and stuff the run, but penalties and trouble around the goal line could be a concern. Gambling safety play resulted in a lot of INTs but also TDs. B+
Philadelphia Eagles special teams can punt and return punts well, but kickoff and kick return are shoddy. K Akers and PR Jackson are standouts. B+
Philadelphia Eagles overall should be nervous. They’ve never appreciated what they had in McNabb and are going all-in with an unknown at QB. Final Grade: B-
Washington Redskins offense is a fading all-star roster bolted onto the chassis of an offensive line which is a year away from being good. C+
Washington Redskins defense got fixed, even though it wasn’t broken. It remains talented, but the league leader in both the red zone and 4th down percentage will likely slip out of their perennial top-ten ranking. B
Washington Redskins special teams covered very well but don’t swing games. Yet again, they’ll be relying on castoffs for P, K, PR and KR. C-
Washington Redskins overall are starting over from scratch, but can hardly be considered “rebuilding” with the oldest roster in the NFL. It will take a couple years before this team can really contend. Does their owner have the patience? Final Grade: C+
New York Giants offense is dangerous but the running game fell apart. The line is no longer the dominant group it was. Fumbling was a consistent problem. B+
New York Giants defense plummeted rapidly and were dead last defending the red zone. They gave up penalties and a whopping 27 points per game. The talented line must rebound or weakness at LB will be exploited. D+
New York Giants special teams are poor in almost every category. They’ve neglected this unit to their peril. D
New York Giants overall can score points quickly, but the defense and special teams rusted like cheap trombones. Final Grade: C-
2010 NFL Preview: NFC North
Minnesota Vikings offense has great skill players, but problems protecting the ball when it matters most could remain a nightmare. The line is becoming more limited but dynamic playmakers should continue to convert third downs and TDs. A-
Minnesota Vikings defense boasts a fierce pass rush and stuffs the run with extreme prejudice. However, the defensive backfield has depth concerns. They're tough in the red zone. A-
Minnesota Vikings special teams have improved to become decent, but they need to find a PR. B+
Minnesota Vikings overall have a strong team, and must realize that this is their last, best chance. They could make a deep run in the playoffs. Final Grade: A-
Green Bay Packers have a balanced offense that protects the ball and can score. The line usually gets the job done but gave up a jaw-dropping 51 sacks, worst in the league. B+
Green Bay Packers defense had the most takeaways in the NFL and didn’t give up many yards. However, they really struggled to defend the red zone. B+
Green Bay Packers special teams are in absolute disarray. D+
Green Bay Packers overall are over-rated by most sportsjacks. They crushed their easy schedule but struggled to beat teams with winning records. They committed the most penalties in the NFL. Final Grade: B
Chicago Bears offense lacks playmakers, which resulted in steaming loads of interceptions. The line can’t open holes and QB Cutler faced steady pressure. C-
Chicago Bears defense is hoping that a transfusion of talent will revitalize them. They were flattened on the ground, especially in the red zone. Their playmakers are old and injuries should continue to mount. B-
Chicago Bears special teams are very good in nearly every phase. A-
Chicago Bears overall took so long to get a quarterback that the defense got old like mold. The window has closed for this team. Final Grade: C
Detroit Lions offense just sucks. Their shoddy line leaves them unable to run or protect the passer. D
Detroit Lions defense added some free agent talent, but the backfield is atrocious. Still one of the league’s absolute worst defenses. D
Detroit Lions special teams are bad. Even their longtime kicker is fading. D
Detroit Lions overall are the personification of Detroit as a city. Final Grade: D
2010 NFL Preview: NFC South
New Orleans Saints offense is ferocious and unstoppable unless they fumble. The power running complements a dazzling passing attack. The line is very good in both protection and bulldozing. A
New Orleans Saints defense is aggressive and produced big plays all the way through the Superbowl win. This hides the fact that they still give up too many yards and points. A-
New Orleans Saints special teams are poor in coverage but boast clutch placekicking. B-
New Orleans Saints overall are in a good position to repeat as champions, but they’ll need to avoid injuries for the second year in a row. Excellent coaching. Final Grade: A-
Atlanta Falcons offense is dynamic and efficient. Behind a stable and solid line, RB Turner should return to form after IR and QB Ryan is poised to take the next step. A-
Atlanta Falcons defense is dreadfully vulnerable through the air, something they addressed in the offseason. They didn’t do enough to improve the weak pass rush. Run defense remains a strength. B
Atlanta Falcons special teams have a question mark at kicker, but otherwise are damn impressive in all aspects of covering and returning. A
Atlanta Falcons overall have the potential to go deep in the playoffs, but the Saints stand in their way and have won seven of the last eight. Final Grade: A-
Carolina Panthers offense is reemerging. A new QB is a breath of fresh air and the line remains strong and deep, leading a punishing ground attack. Passing will lag this year. B
Carolina Panthers defense is soft versus the run but covers the pass well; pass rush could be an issue next season. B+
Carolina Panthers special teams are total garbage in every category. D
Carolina Panthers overall didn’t do enough to improve from last year’s 8-8 campaign. Final Grade: C+
Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense is a work in progress. Lack of talent and ball protection prevents them from taking advantage of a decent line. D+
Tampa Bay defense is so helpless against the run, nobody bothered to pass against them. This unit will give up a lot of points. D+
Tampa Bay special teams are surprisingly good, and will be relied on to produce. A-
Tampa Bay overall has so many holes, it will sink deep. Final Grade: C-
2010 NFL Preview: NFC West
San Francisco 49ers offense is unbalanced. The running game has produced some yards despite injuries, but the passing is simply third-rate. A young offensive line has potential, but first downs will still be hard to come by. C-
San Francisco 49ers defense is the team’s strength, and it owes its character to Coach Singletary. However, they can get stung through the air. The pass rush is almost there. B+
San Francisco 49ers special teams coverage is good and WR Ginn, Jr. could be a valuable addition. This should be a strong unit, barring injury. B+
San Francisco 49ers overall are good enough to win in their watered-down division, but they still lack the offense to advance in the playoffs. Final Grade: B
Arizona Cardinals offense will be a shadow of its former self. Expect more reliance on the run game, with limited success. Frustration will abound. C
Arizona Cardinals defense actually lost more veteran leadership than the offense. They will be even more vulnerable against the run, especially up the middle. They have a decent pass rush. C-
Arizona Cardinals special teams are good on kicks but poor on punts. They’re going to need a lot of FG’s from K Feeley. B
Arizona Cardinals overall are poised to tumble. How low will depend on coaching and QB development. Final Grade: C+
St. Louis Rams offense will continue to ride RB Jackson until he finally breaks. A rookie QB and a paucity of WR talent will limit them all season long. They don’t have the best line for power-running, and the team ranked dead last in scoring. D+
St. Louis Rams defense has no playmakers: the backfield intercepted zero passes in 2009. They give up a ton of first downs by ground and air. They have no pass rush. D
St. Louis Rams special teams are the strongest unit; they are solid in every category, yet allowed several return TDs. B+
St. Louis Rams overall are an under-talented team with a lot of growing up to do. Final Grade: C-
Seattle Seahawks offense is strong with RBs but the ramshackle line is a problem. The passing game can be shut down easily, and they turn the ball over with haste. They especially struggle in the red zone. C-
Seattle Seahawks defense can’t stop the pass. Injuries and total lack of a pass rush will continue to dog them. They can’t match up against good WRs. C-
Seattle Seahawks special teams have a good P and K, but can’t cover or return anything. C-
Seattle Seahawks overall are poorly managed and their new coach is of a low character. Things are going to get worse here before they get better. Final Grade: C-
2010 NFL Preview: AFC East
New York Jets offense is expected to air the ball out more; they had by far the lowest number of pass attempts. The line is strong and deep but built to run-block. WR character issues and QB development will pace this unit. B+
New York Jets defense is the best in the league in points & yards. They have no weakness, and passing against them is a fool’s errand. The return of beefy NT Jenkins makes them even more dominant. A
New York Jets special teams are in transition and full of question marks. Unless this unit gets settled, it will be a heavy anchor on this team. C+
New York Jets overall are well-coached and hungry for more after a provocative trip to the AFC title game. They hit hard and will scrap for 60 minutes. Final Grade: A-
New England Patriots offense will always be dangerous through the air and the line could be the team’s best since their Superbowl run. Rushing lags behind, and they don’t seem confident in it. A-
New England Patriots defense is smart and control the clock, but age is making their run defense vulnerable. They don’t have a pass rush any more. B+
New England Patriots special teams are a bit short-handed. They aren’t capable of changing games on their own. C+
New England Patriots overall may struggle a bit during the season, but coaching and veteran leadership will make them frightening if they make the playoffs. Final Grade: B+
Miami Dolphins offense is low-wattage and the “Wildcat” is losing its new-car smell. A developing line will continue to open holes for a stable of hard-used RBs. The passing game is poised to take a step forward. B
Miami Dolphins defense was not impressive but they did get after the passer well. Major changes all over the defense make it hard to know what to expect. B-
Miami Dolphins special teams were not especially good before they traded away their explosive returner. C-
Miami Dolphins overall will be competitive and squeak out a few close wins. They are still a step behind the division leaders, but play hard. Final Grade: B-
Buffalo Bills offense is a yawn. That they were able to run the ball is impressive, because their line and passing game are third-rate. They were dead last in the red zone and third down conversions. D+
Buffalo Bills defense is so soft versus the run, nobody challenges their decent secondary. Changing to a 3-4 without proper personnel will make things worse. D+
Buffalo Bills special teams are inexplicably good, but they lost their coach. A-
Buffalo Bills overall are going nowhere, and their head-coaching position is like the waiting room to hell. Final Grade: C-