The 2 Point Conversion

The Complete NFL Scoop

One Thing the NBA Got Right: Rookie Pay

Everybody seems to agree that the NFL cannot continue to let rookie contracts spiral out of control. A top 8 pick can clog up over 5% of a team’s salary cap space, while the team will have roughly 45 veterans consuming an average of less than half that. In 2009, Matthew Stafford signed a six-year deal worth $12 million per year with over $41 million guaranteed. In that same year, Blake Griffin signed a two-year deal worth under $4.5 million per year with a team option to retain him for $4.8 mil in 2011 and for $6 mil in 2012. It’s not just the sums that are troublesome; it’s the length and guaranteed amounts of the contract. For example, Evander Hood, the 32nd overall pick, will make more in guaranteed money than the 5th overall pick in the NBA. No wonder Lions fans don’t come to games; their tickets go towards paying Gosder Cherilus his $9 million guaranteed, Ernie Sims’ $12 million guaranteed and Mike Williams’ and Charles Rogers’ combined $45 million that they robbed from the Detroit organization.

Team option contracts after the first two years are brilliant. Rookies will have more incentive to work extremely hard to improve and win a starting job and if they slouch, the team that picked them won’t get hit by a huge cap penalty if they get rid of their bust pick. Now, bust on a top 5 pick and your franchise will find it tough to recover because you have to pay that bench warmer $35 million no matter how bad he is or if he even makes it on to the field. The bottom line is that the pressure of young players needs to be on the rookies, not the teams that drafted them.


July 5, 2010 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment

Brett Favre’s Offseason Spectacle

I must admit, I’m getting sick and tired of Brett Favre’s annual offseason dramatics. I admired him in his years as a Packer but have lost all respect for him since. Apparently, being a star NFL quarterback doesn’t come with a big enough spotlight for his highness. His infantile plea for attention is getting old and aggravating. He just gave an interview with his local newspaper, where he pretended he didn’t know what was running through his own mind and essentially asked his fans to stay tuned to his situation. He also dropped a not-so-subtle hint that he’d like another shot at the New Orleans Saints after the first (the NFC Championship Game) was fumbled away by Adrian Peterson.

Brett, you know exactly how the remainder of your offseason will unfold. First, you will waffle and make the entire Viking organization come down to your Mississippi ranch and wine and dine you and kiss your toes for you to come back. Then, as your teammates are sweating with each other during the dog days of training camp, you’ll be tossing around a football with local high school kids. But of course, why would a legend like you show up to such a lowly event as training camp? Finally, as soon as your teammates have transitioned from work to play – around the second week of August – you will have had a revelation totally out of the blue that you cannot live without football and make your spontaneous return. Please.

I seem to be in the minority when I say I am not amused in the least bit by your circus. You are not above the team, or the coaches. You have 32 more interceptions than games started, so clearly you aren’t the superhero you pretend to be. You are a great quarterback, you still are, but you are not better than your teammates who you are letting down by not showing up to the practice field or the weight room. You are not higher than the entire Packers’ organization, who handled your situation perfectly. You promised to retire, so Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers to replace you. Instead, you thought you were entitled to set back the entire team’s youth movement and Rodgers’ career for another few years and nothing would come of it. Well, you still haven’t learned your lesson; you are not more valuable than your 52 teammates, dozens of coaches and talent evaluators. Stop pining for attention and acting like you are so much more important than your fellow players. Now, follow your father’s advice when it isn’t so convenient; suck it up and get out on the field.

June 26, 2010 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment

Steve Smith…Irresponsible or Unlucky?

A lot has been made of the Panthers’ Steve Smith’s broken arm sustained while playing in a friendly flag football game. Smith broke the same arm in the latter part of last season as well, although the fractures occurred in two entirely different places. The consensus is that Smith’s behavior was irresponsible, but I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, Smith has a responsibility to his team as a star to keep himself healthy. Yes, he failed to fulfill this responsibility, but that doesn’t make his action irresponsible, per se.

This is not a clone of the Brandon Marshall situation a few years ago when the 6’4″ receiver punched through his television and did damage to his arm. Smith wasn’t rough housing, and I agree with him that the incident was indeed a “freak accident”. I personally have played in several dozen flag football games with the most severe injury I have witnessed being a jammed finger. It would be one thing if he broke his arm in a bar fight or playing tackle football, but we cannot expect athletes to abstain from any non-NFL related activities altogether during their offseasons. We demand athletes retreat into cocoons for six months of the year, when the reality is that they have to work out, where injuries occur. They have families, and they must interact with them. They are human beings, not higher beings, and fans must be accommodating of that fact. Smith’s incident was unfortunate, but was not a product of stupidity or irresponsibility on his part.

June 25, 2010 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment

Could Revis Island Float Away?

Darrelle Revis has been listening to Rex Ryan raving about his superior abilities at the cornerback position for quite some time now. Ryan has gone so far as to say Revis is the best defensive player in the league. In this day and age, it’s only natural for Revis to want to get paid like a premier talent since the Jets obviously think so highly of him. He is, without a doubt, in the class of Nnamdi Asomugha, Troy Polamalu, Patrick Willis, DeMarcus Ware, and Jared Allen in terms of dominant defenders. His current contract is worth about $5 million per year (about half of the franchise tag amount for his position) while Asomugha’s deal is worth more than triple that.

The Jets seemed willing to renegotiate the deal, and Revis understood that the deal would not happen overnight and maybe not before the end of the season. However, the Jets made an offer right off the bat that was so insulting to Revis that he decided that his relationship with the organization was now fractured. It was reportedly worth around $9 million per year. Sources close to Revis are under the impression the corner was searching for between $16 and $20 million per year.

That “lowball” offer did not come from a difference of opinion regarding Revis’ talent level. The Jets cannot sell tickets in the new stadium they poured so much money into. They have over 9,000 unsold PSLs (Personal Seating Licenses) and have dramatically reduced the price on 18,000 seats so they can save themselves from the embarrassment of opening their new stadium in front of a half-full crowd.

If Revis were to bolt for another team, he would certainly not be the first. Laveraneus Coles and Chris Baker have left Gang Green because of insulting offers and broken promises. This is also an uncapped year, and while Woody Johnson is rich enough to own an NFL team, he does not have Dan Snyder or Jerry Jones cash on hand. In fact, the releases/trades of Alan Faneca, Thomas Jones, and Leon Washington were probably an effort to save money to resign Revis.

Oh, and Revis isn’t in his situation alone. D’Brickashaw Ferguson (pro bowl LT), Nick Mangold (pro bowl OC), and David Harris (young, starting ILB) are also in line for new deals. To keep them all around, it may take an annual average of $16 million for Revis, $12 million for Ferguson, $6 million for Mangold, and $7 million for Harris, which equates to approximately $200 million over five years. So while the Jets look good on paper, they could be in serious trouble down the road. Jets’ fans had better hope for Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson to blossom in Ryan’s scheme I guess.

June 12, 2010 Posted by | NFL News, Opinion | Leave a comment

On the Hot Seat

As I think about the upcoming NFL season, it strikes me how many teams are under tremendous pressure to perform and/or improve. If they fail to meet expectations, the biggest chunk of the blame, as you know, will go to the head coach in most cases. The pressure is only increased because guys like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden are available. So, I have compiled a list of coaches who will be heavily scrutinized and second-guessed all season long. Will they respond well?

#5. Mike McCarthy (Packers)

McCarthy is entering his fifth season as head coach of the Packers, and has been fortunate to have an elite quarterback for every year of his tenure. That may be a curse in disguise actually. Having Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers significantly raises expectations, and deservedly so. How many teams with elite passers finish below .500 every year? In today’s NFL, that number is getting closer to zero every season. Competing in a quarterback starved division up until Favre’s arrival in Minnesota last year, McCarthy was only able to bring home the NFC North crown once. He was bested by Brett Favre, Gus Frerotte, and Rex Grossman TWICE. If the Packers miss the playoffs, Green Bay may be thinking they can do better at head coach.

#4. Tom Coughlin (Giants)

The G-men had a disappointing ’09 campaign, and while it was marred by injuries, is nonetheless inexcusable in the demanding environment of New York City. With a franchise quarterback, great talent at skill positions (Steve Smith, Brandon Jacobs, Hakeem Nicks), a solid offensive line, and an improved and healthy defense, another football-less January for Big Blue will not go over well. The brutal schedule (NFC East, NFC North, AFC South) will not be an excuse for losing eight or nine games. Even if they miss the playoffs at 9-7, Coughlin may not have the job security many will assume he has.

#3. John Fox (Panthers)

They say a head coach in the NFL is always on a one year contract, but this is literally true for John Fox. Many see 2010 as his lame duck year. Carolina seems to be ready to go after Bill Cowher after this season, and I believe John Fox will need to take the Panthers to the playoffs to convince the organization to keep him around. This will be a tough task if Atlanta and New Orleans turn out to be as good as I think they will. With an inexperienced player under center, it certainly is tough to envision Carolina finishing with more than eight wins. That means Fox is as good as gone.

#2. Jack Del Rio (Jaguars)

If you are entering your eighth year in the same position without ever having won your own division in the NFL, you know you’re on the hot seat. Point to Peyton Manning if you like, but the Jaguars have finished right behind the Colts only three out of seven times. In the last two seasons, Jacksonville has finished dead last in their division behind Kerry Collins, Vince Young, and Matt Schaub with a combined record of 12-20. Del Rio has won a grand total of one postseason game during his tenure. He has allowed a once feared defense to slip into mediocrity. Much of that is the GM’s fault, but Del Rio has also failed to develop a franchise quarterback and his teams can’t sell tickets. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters in a business, even an entertainment business. If the Jaguars can’t turn some heads, fill some seats, or score some touchdowns, Coach Del Rio will find himself unemployed in eight months.

#1. Lovie Smith (Bears)

You can tell by the way the Bears have been spending that the ownership has made it very clear that if improvements are not made, they’re cleaning house. Smith and GM Jerry Angelo will be the first to go. If the Jay Cutler experiment does not take a turn for the best and if Julius Peppers falls short of expectations, there will be many new faces in Chicago. Lovie has won two playoff games in six seasons and has gone 23-25 over the last three seasons. Unlike Del Rio, and Fox, Smith’s team has stars. Unlike Coughlin, Smith doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring to show for anything. It will also be really tough to finish ahead of the Packers or Vikings, and having to play each twice along with Dallas, the Giants, Eagles, Patriots, and Jets makes the odds of winning ten or even nine games pretty slim. If the Bears cannot go to the playoffs after trading the farm for Jay Cutler and spending the other one on Julius Peppers, I think you know who will be blamed for it.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment

Creative Cleveland

In 2009 with Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson at the helm, the Browns’ offense was pathetic, to put it candidly. In 2010, they will have a package opponents will have to game plan for. They can’t throw the ball and traditional handoffs don’t generate a high enough percentage of explosive plays, so they need to get the ball into their playmakers’ hands by thinking out of the box.
Mike Holmgren and company are doing just that, and have practiced formations involving both Josh Cribbs and Seneca Wallace. Throw in Jerome Harrison and some quick receivers on the edge, and a defense all of a sudden is dealing with a helluva lot of speed and explosive ability.
They get an ‘A’ for effort, but I doubt the formation will do much damage. There is no deep threat to keep the defense honest and the offensive line has some major holes. The biggest reason the package will fail is that they won’t be able to call it. Miami and Dallas are the only real innovators when it comes to the wildcat, everybody else is just a copycat. Cleveland won’t throw anything at a defense that they can’t prepare for. Nobody on their coaching staff has experience calling a wildcat as a significant chunk of the offense, and it will show.
The Browncat, or whatever you want to call it, will look an awful lot like what the Eagles did with Michael Vick. Interesting formation and a ton of pre-snap hype followed by a simple draw play that nets two or three yards. Are the athletes (Cribbs, Wallace, Harrison) dangerous? Yes. Will they be stuffed when a defense drops eight or nine guys down in the box? 95% of the time.
The new package will not be creative enough to make an offense out of because unlike in Miami, Cleveland doesn’t have the brains calling the plays. I guess that’s why they pick in the top 10 so often.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | NFL News, Opinion | Leave a comment

Feel Entitled? Don’t.

The Associated Press is reporting that LenDale White is feeling “confused” and “broken-up” about his recent release from the Seahawks, at least according to his uncle. LenDale is clearly one of those players in the NFL who doesn’t “get it.” At the 2006 Scouting Combine, one general manager remarked that “the guy needed a bra, it was ridiculous. You come to the combine looking like that and you want to be a first-round pick? Come on. The guy had obviously been doing nothing,” upon seeing White weigh in shirtless. I’m willing to give him a pass on this, however, as countless players are immature enough to blow off their biggest job interview such as Andre Smith and Dez Bryant.

Six months later at Titans’ practice, White spat in the face of his own teammate, safety Donnie Nickey. In 2008, he received citations for destruction of property, disobedience to a lawful order/interference and resistance. Now, this. Give props to Pete Carroll for refusing to put up with LenDale’s unprofessional demeanor. It may teach White once and for all that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right.

Now that he has been cut, he feels “confused” and “broken-up”? Stop acting so innocent because everybody knows that you deserved what you got, including you. Shut up, drop some bra sizes, and wait by your phone in case Cincinnati needs to give yet another player a second chance.

May 30, 2010 Posted by | NFL News, Opinion | Leave a comment

San Fran’s Record May Be Misleading

Everybody expects the Saints and Cowboys to make the playoffs again, but who will be new to the playoff picture? In order, my guesses would be San Francisco, Atlanta, and Houston. San Francisco is the only one I’m very confident about, however. They are by default the best team in the division, for one. St. Louis still doesn’t have nearly enough pieces in place to make a run at the playoffs in 2010. Arizona simply lost too many valuable components (Warner, Boldin, Dansby, Rolle) and reports out of Cardinals camp regarding Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson are not good at all. At this point, Seattle appears to be the most serious threat to San Francisco, but even they have nothing to write home about apart from their linebacking corps.

San Francisco has an established runner, a bolstered offensive line, and two budding superstars in Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. If Alex Smith can step up, this 49ers offense could be a force to be reckoned with. There are very few offenses with both potent passing and dominant run games. Minnesota, Atlanta, Dallas, and maybe Baltimore come to mind. All of those teams have a chance to do real damage in the playoffs. So does San Fran. When it comes to defense, this is a disciplined unit that ranked 4th in scoring last season. They have a phenomenal line with incredible power generated by Isaac Sopoaga and Aubrayo Franklin. They have veteran Justin Smith and promising youngsters Kentwan Balmer and Ricky Jean Francois. Behind them is all-pro Patrick Willis. Despite not having a top pass rusher, the 49ers can get to the quarterback by using a rotation of Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Ahmad Brooks, and Travis LaBoy. Their secondary is average at best, but it should not be too big of a liability.

Nobody compares to the 49ers in the NFC West, and I expect them to win at least 5 division games. They also get to play Kansas City, Denver, Oakland, Tampa, and Carolina. I see only two games (@ Chargers, @ Packers) where they are clearly overmatched. Therefore, if the team can stay relatively healthy, it’s entirely possible that they could win 13 games. I am almost sure they will win at least 10, and I would guess that 11 or 12 is the most realistic number. Don’t be surprised if the 49ers got a first round bye in the playoffs.

Can they win the Super Bowl? No. Alex Smith can win 11 games in a weak division, but he won’t be able to go through Atlanta, Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Diego in consecutive weeks. The team will only be tested five or six times over the course of the season, should easily make the playoffs, but are not built to win in January. If Tom Brady cannot agree to an extension with New England, for example, and is attracted to San Francisco, look out. Brady to Crabtree and Davis. Gore in the backfield. Then, San Fran can feel real optimism.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment

Denver Broncos Outlook

  27. Denver Broncos (4-12)

Eric Mangini, Scott Pioli, and now Josh McDaniels. If the Patriots’ system was so brilliant, why aren’t the Jets, Chiefs, Broncos, and Browns among the league’s finest? I don’t know how many failures it will take to come out of New England for people to realize Bill Belichick is the only man there who can run a football team. Two of the three stooges are in the AFC West now, and they’re making Al Davis look like Ozzie Newsome. Josh McDaniels has taken a very promising young team and has dismantled it in an alarmingly short time.

The cute, new-look Broncos took the league by surprise, but their 2-8 finish was no fluke. If they find a good quarterback out of the mess they have made there, their offense should do alright. Knowshon Moreno, Eddie Royal, and Demaryius Thomas make for a nice trio of skill players there and I like the additions they have made to their offensive line. On defense, it’s a different story entirely. In the secondary, their starters will be 32, 32, 31, and 36 years old at the beginning of the season. Apart from DJ Williams and Elvis Dumervil, all their defenders are sub-par starters and/or well past their prime. The Broncos run a 3-4 defense, don’t have a nose tackle, and pass up Dan Williams not once, but twice. They only have one pass rusher and pass on both Jerry Hughes and Sergio Kindle not once, but twice. They have no real solutions in their front seven, and this is a team that ranked 26th in run defense last season. They are a 4 to 5 win team for the next two years at least, and I would be shocked if they picked outside of the top 10 again.

I think Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas will both be very solid players in this league, but not this year. It could take Tebow three years and Thomas two for them to hit their strides. Meanwhile, Denver will suffer the consequences of making their defense wait their turn and will, in all likelihood, have only a very average offense to show for it.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment

Crayton Wants Out

Patrick Crayton has formally requested the Dallas Cowboys to be released. In the past 18 months, he has seen Roy Williams brought in to replace him, Miles Austin pass both of them on the depth chart, and now his team has spent its first round draft pick on a receiver, Dez Bryant. He is convinced that these moves will lead to his eventual release, and that he does not factor into the Cowboys’ plans at all. He claims that he will be released after training camp as long as his younger competition stays healthy.

Dallas would be making a huge mistake by cutting Crayton, if that is indeed in their plans. Financially, Crayton does not hurt to keep around as he will make only about $2 million in 2010. He just turned 31, but he is entering only his seventh season in the league. Crayton has proven he is the second best receiver on the team. Besides Jason Witten, no Cowboy has come close to the consistency Crayton has put up in terms of receiving. He has had 4 straight 500+ yard seasons, catching 162 balls over that span. Miles Austin has 99, Roy Williams has 138 (57 of which have come in his 25 games as a Cowboy), and Dez Bryant has 0 in that same time frame.

Dez Bryant, as talented as he may be, is a boom-or-bust luxury pick. Any contributions from him must be regarded as a bonus until he proves that he can bring his own cleats to practice at least. If he has a 40 catch season, by all means, cut the 32-year-old Crayton in 2011. Now, however, is not the time to ruin your ideal situation at receiver. Crayton is dependable, something you cannot say for any other Dallas receiver, including one year wonder Miles Austin. If Dallas needs to promote Crayton to the starting lineup for him to accept his role, so be it. He belongs there anyway.

What Crayton needs to understand is that his value to Dallas is not his 40 catches for 500 yards and 4 TDs but his role as an insurance policy. Miles Austin is due for a huge contract along the lines of 6 years, $55 million. If that cannot get done, Dallas will have to put all their eggs in the Roy Williams/Dez Bryant basket if they cut Crayton. If Bryant doesn’t pan out with Crayton gone, Romo has no depth behind Austin. As a free agent, I’m not sure how much of a market there is for a run of the mill possession receiver into his 30s. Both Crayton and the Cowboys need to find common ground, because they will both be much worse off without each other.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | NFL News, Opinion | Leave a comment