Archive for category AFC East

My Q&A at NewYorkJets.DK

Just before the NFL Draft, I answered a few questions for Mark Bundgaard over at NewYorkJets.dk. As promised, I went back for more post Draft.

Follow the link for more NY Jets Q&A, including my thoughts on the Draft itself, standing pat and grabbing Kyle Wilson and the overall moves the team made over the Draft weekend.

Thanks as always to Mark for tossing me some questions my way.

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2010 NFL Rookie Analysis – Devin McCourty, CB, New England Patriots

Since I’m now located on the East Coast, I’ve been following East Coast teams much more closely than I have before.

Of course, you’d have had to be blind to miss Rutgers recent rise to prominence (hence the rumors they are the target of a pilfering attempt by the Big Ten) no matter where you lived. But there’s a lot more to the conference than I thought before I returned back to NY.

This year, 18 players from the Big East Conference were drafted and a slew of others were picked up as street free agents.

Over the next week we’re going to take a look at some of them, where they went and what their landing spot might mean for their success in the league.

Previous Article:

Anthony Davis, OT, San Francisco 49ers

In our second edition, we look at another former Scarlet Knight – cornerback Devin McCourty.

 

McCourty will help a secondary which allowed some huge games in 2009

Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers – Drafted by the New England Patriots at 1-27
It seems like this selection confused people as many thought the more pressing defensive need was pass rush and either a defensive lineman or a linebacker. But the secondary is a problem as well and with teams like the Vikings and Packers coming to town this year and the Colts always a threat in the playoffs, the Patriots know they need to secure the secondary.

McCourty was a pretty good corner at Rutgers although he did allow a lot of passes. A tough, versatile player with return skills, McCourty fits the Belichick mold of solid, muti-functional athletes who can fill several roles. It looks as though he will start out as a nickel back and more than likely get some special teams work, probably on coverage as well as returning kicks but don’t be surprised if in a few years he’s moved to corner where his press skills will come to fruition. You could see him a lot this year in fact, as the Pats play nickel defense nearly half the time.

At 5′10″, 193lbs, McCourty isn’t the prototypical sized defensive back, but he’s incredibly tough and competitive and that may make up for some size issues. The physical nature of his game will also secure him a frequent spot on coverage units and you have to know Coach Belichick will try to recreate some of the seven blocked kicks McCourty produced for the Scarlet Knights.

The Patriots not only struggled against the likes of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning but were torched by Chad Henne (335 yards, 2 TDs), Kyle Orton (330 yards, 2 TDs) and Matt Schaub (303 yards, 2 TDs).

McCourty should be able to step in and help reverse course for New England, and very quickly at that.

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2010 Draft Blurb Appearences

So I did a bunch of radio work this past weekend and didn’t have time to post it (and at times, didn’t have time to get a link to it) until now.

When you get a chance, check out the following bits of audio:

Friday Night I appeared on Brian Carriveau’s Cheesehead Nation show on Blogtalkradio.com. We talked about the first few rounds of Packer picks, which I actually like quite a bit. (about 10 minutes at the front  but the ep goes much longer)

I’m at the top but stick around for the whole show as they break down some of the picks more in depth later on. It’s good stuff, and Railbird Central is a great place to go for Packer stuff.

Saturday I joined my good friend Matt Levine of The Final Score of WSTC/WNLK in Connecticut to talk some Jets and Giants as well as some general NFL Draft stuff as well. I uploaded it here so you can hear what I had to say from Radio City. (about 20 minutes long)

On Sunday I got to hoof it to the home of Sirius Satellite Radio and join Cecil Lammey of 104.3 The Fan in Denver and Footballguys.com as well as Russ Lande, analyst for SportingNews.com’s NFL Draft Warroom and head of GMJr for three hours of 2010 NFL Draft recap.

As Cecil’s show (every Sunday on the Fan) is on in Denver, we covered a lot of Broncos (and Tim Tebow) but also hit on the Draft in general and the AFC West as a whole.

You can also get a behind the scenes look at the three of us on this episode of Blurb TV. In fact you can get a look at ALL of my experience at the 2010 NFL Draft here at Thundering Blurb or over at my channel on Viddler as well.

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Brandon Marshall to Dolphins – Reaction

Wow. When you miss, you miss.

Just yesterday I was debating with someone on Twitter that with Santonio Holmes going so cheap, there was no way the Denver Broncos get a second round pick for him this year. The market wouldn’t bear it, so I thought.

And truthfully, he wasn’t traded for a second rounder.

He was traded for two. Reportedly this trade involved a second round pick this year and a pick in 2011, reportedly another second rounder.

WOW. That’s probably proper value for Marshall in another market but in this one? A little surprising.

The Denver Broncos should send the Jets a fruit basket or something. I have to wonder if they got a good price on Marshall since the Jets have been gorging themselves at the trade/free agent buffet table all off-season.

Miami had to be feeling some pressure to improve. On paper, the Jets started running away with the AFC East. You still have to play the games (and the Jets schedule is reportedly a rough one) but they are loading up.

I think this is a good trade for both teams. I hope Marshall keeps his head straight. Miami isn’t NYC or Los Angeles in terms of distractions, but the nightlife is seductive.

I’m pretty excited to be covering the Broncos at the Draft next week. Should be even more interesting now.

Here are my thoughts on how the trade affects both teams:

Dolphins: Chad Henne is doing backflips. I’m not spying on him through a high powered telescope (that’s set up at Angelina Jolie’s house this week) but come on.

He HAD Tedd Ginn jr, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, Greg Camirillo and Patrick Turner.

He has that (well soon minus Ginn) and now Brandon Marshall. I don’t need the telescope to know he’s literally dancing with joy.

Marshall has tremendous talent and this is a fantastic move for the Dolphins and will help Henne quite a bit. They need to do something with the run game and have several other holes to fill.

But for the Dolphins, I think this was quite simply a no brainer. It has some risk to it (less so than the Jets and Holmes). If it works out though, it will keep them in the hunt.

By the way if Ginn wasn’t gone before, you can punch his ticket now. About time to end that disaster of a first round pick for Miami.

Broncos: I don’t know if this locks a wide receiver in for them early in the NFL Draft next week, but it feels that way.

Look at Dez Bryant, a guy Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs-Gazette has been saying the team should be looking at for a while now.

If you don’t like the fact that you’d be trading one head-case for another potential one in Bryant, how about Georgia Tech’s Demaryious Thomas? Or maybe USC wideout Damian Williams?  Mardy Gilyard? Arrelious Benn? Or wait and grab a guy like Citadel’s Andre Roberts.

It’s a good draft for them to grab a wide receiver. And now, they have the ammunition to do even more, with the 43rd now in addition to the 45th.

In this Draft, it’s pretty significant.

Sure, this downgrades Orton/Quinn a bunch. Eddie Royal struggled so much last year we don’t know which is the real Royal: the rookie stud or the sophomore dud.

There are solid wide receivers there but no sure-fire stud. Any rookie they draft will take a little while to get up to speed (Mike Crabtree disagrees with me).

Still, the Broncos will probably be fine and the picks more than compensate for any short term loss.

This trade, like the Holmes trade Monday, has the possibility of being a win-win for both teams.

The Broncos get rid of a headache for outstanding value and the Dolphins get a very, very good wide receiver. If Marshall can keep his head on straight, he’ll do fine in Miami. Henne gets a new weapon, better than any he has had thus far.

Looks good from all angles right now to me.

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Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow & Jim Kelly: 2010 NFL Draft Smoke

Today none other than long-time NFL writer Gil Brandt opined that Sam Bradford’s Pro Day Workout had left people speechless and was the greatest workout since Troy Aikman.

Meanwhile news leaked that legendary Bills quarterback Jim Kelly had been involved in a dinner the team had with Florida quarterback-turned-Draft-lightning-rod Tim Tebow. According to Kelly (or rather his wife’s Twitter-feed) the former quarterback came away impressed.

Of course what this has led to in both cases is intense media speculation about everything as to when they will be drafted to whether they (in Bradford’s case) will sign before the draft.

Days like this remind me of the old saying: Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.

Let’s think about what we really heard today – not the hype, not the crazy salivating. What was actually said.

Bradford had a good Pro Day - but best ever?

In Bradford’s case, he had an outstanding Pro Day, no doubt about it.

Keep in mind though—the guy threw a ton of passes, yes, but scripted and with absolutely no pressure on him. He didn’t take a hit, didn’t have to get back off the turf after a big hit to his shoulder.

Now, I’m not going to downplay the work he did to get his shoulder right. He is showing no weakness in the shoulder and that assuages my one big concern for him.

I don’t worry much about durability—the guy chose to try and let his shoulder heal on it’s own via rehab and when he come back, it was clear that wasn’t enough.

So throwing the way he did is a big deal. But he didn’t show that much more than we expected did he? Did we see something never seen before? I’ve been to a bunch of Pro Days, including a rather impressive one Mark Sanchez had at USC last year.

Hell John David Booty had an impressive Pro Day.

I’m hear to tell you it’d be more of a shock if he had a bad day.

So what did we learn? We learned his arm is fine, his accuracy is just as advertised and he can throw a deep ball when not under pressure.

Aside from that? Hype. Keep some perspective—locked in 1st pick? Maybe. Hall of Fame? Maybe later…

As a side note, we’re a month out and while we’re all assuming Bradford is the top pick, suddenly reports say he’s not going to sign his not-yet-offered contract.

So…. we’ve got the World’s Greatest Pro Day and a Qb who is rumored in some vague way to not be sure he’ll sign a contract that doesn’t exist yet.

Huh?

Our other Over-Reaction Moment for Monday involved Tim Tebow. Shocking, I know.

I would dearly love to spend a day with this guy if just to see what he’s really

With Tebow it's hard to seperate truth from hype.

like.

Because who can tell with the smoke and mirrors around him? I have to wonder how much he buys into what is said about him. He seems very grounded, but how the heck would I know? How could anyone outside of those who take him to dinner or interview him in a dark room at their team facilities?

Speaking of dinner, the Bills had Tebow over for dinner this weekend and rumors ran rampant on the internet about how impressed Kelly was with him.

What did the staff think? Hard to say since everyone was busy reading into Kelly’s reaction which actually wasn’t even his so much as his wife’s reaction to his reaction.

Head hurt? It should. All the discussion about the Bills came about mostly because of one person’s excitement about another person’s excitement.

Am I saying Tebow isn’t going to the Bills or that Jim Kelly didn’t fall in love with him after dinner? No. What I am saying is that it shouldn’t really be this much news when a) a team meets with a top prospect or b) someone comes away with a dinner with Tebow and says he’s a class act.

REALLY? TEBOW IS A GOOD CITIZEN?

This is the part of the year where teams start some real gamesmanship. I’m sure the Bills are thinking a bit about Tebow. But how much? Hard to say and anyone who swears they know the level better be working for the team.

But we’re watching high-stakes poker. Teams are all trying to see how soon they have to go ‘all in’ to get what they want.

Someone will blink on Tebow. They’ll see—or rather think they see—another team ahead of them in the next round start to move and they’ll leap forward, push their chips in and hope to good they don’t get river’d.

I have my concerns about Tebow, but there is enough buzz around him to where people are intrigued. It does feel a bit like Tebow is a strong possibility for the Bills, and I think they may strongly consider him with their second round pick.

Though some of that just feels like it’s what they want me to feel.

Like so many things, we’re being manipulated early and often.

So next time you see that blurb about Jacksonville feeding Tebow or Player A having ‘the greatest Pro Day recorded in human history since we started recording history’, make sure you read a little closer and think a little longer.

And try not to step in the hype.

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Just when you thought it was safe to be a Bills fan- Terrell Owens is your guy!

According to NFL.com, the Buffalo Bills agreed to terms with Terrell Owens on a one-year, $6.5 million contract.

OK, so this one is a little out of left field and is terribly, terribly risky.

Owens has lost a step, no doubt but is still very effective, very often. He can still make big plays even if he also makes some big drops.

His affect on the Bills will be immediate.

We all know the TO flipside of that great talent and this is not a team that is currently trouble free. Given Owen’s history the Bills could be opening themselves up to some problems.

For example, Marshawn Lynch has made some awful decisions off the field the last couple of years and you have to wonder if Owens in a locker room is going to make that worse.

OK, so Pacman didn’t immolate his career because Owens was there. Fine. But TO wasn’t exactly playing nice with top target Jason Witten. Will he really play second fiddle Lee Evans? Is he capable of being a giving teammate who isn’t the focus of the offense?

And let’s not forget the list of shattered quarterback relationships in his wake. Three for three, right? Garcia, McNabb and Romo? And no he gets Edwards who has more than once faced questions in Buffalo about whether he is the right guy for the job?

Is this a recipe for success or meltdown?

In a vacuum, on paper, at first glance – this looks like it’s an upgrade for the Bills. As I said at the start, they have been desperate for a weapon to compliment Lee Evans.

Maybe it’s unfair to judge TO’s behavior before he actually puts on a jersey. Maybe this divorce with Dallas will turn him around.

And to be brutal, he usually becomes a problem after a year or so, so this one year contract should get Buffalo in and out before he annihilates the team chemistry and locker room.

But like a former leader of the free world said: ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I won’t get fooled again.’.

Or putting it like TO once did: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck…..

But the upside here for the Bills could be huge.

Finally, Lee Evans gets the weapon he desperately needs across from him. Let’s face is – James Hardy wasn’t cutting it. Until he figures out how to use his big frame to muscle the ball away from the secondary, he’s not going to be a big enough factor to affect the coverage on Evans. I DO have a lot of hope and expectation for Steve Johnson to emerge down the road, but they need help now. Owens will distract the secondary and we could be in for some epic production for Evans who started off so hot last year only to fall by the wayside when secondaries adjusted to his work.

Trent Edwards finally has another weapon and as I just mentioned, it will make his other main pass target more effective. That’s a plus too.

And as the passing game becomes more of a threat, it should open lanes up for the run game and Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. That’s already a pretty effective tandem carrying the rock. How about when they don’t find the secondary at the second level because they were burned a few times by the new Owens-Evans tandem?

Assuming Head Coach Dick Jauron uses them effectively, this could be a very dangerous offense.

This is a risky move for Buffalo. It’s got a huge risk factor in it. But if it pays off, the Bills could be a sustained threat in the AFC East this year, perhaps not fading offensively once the opposition adjusts to their offense.

Would I do it? Would I want my beloved Jets to do it? No, I don’t think so.

But it’s a gamble I respect and the kind of move that sometimes pays huge dividends.

Then again, it might also be the type of move a very desperate franchise might do as well, and the sort that could burn a team to the ground as well.

Should be fun to watch though.