NFL GridIron Gab Daily Digest

NFL GridIron Gab Daily Digest

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No Respect for the Young KC Chiefs

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 08:55 PM PDT

I hate the "Nobody believed in us!" card – chances are, there are some people somewhere that believed in you if you are a professional sports team. Heck, even the Raiders have fans. But there are some instances when the feeling that nobody believes in you is warranted.

For instance, Fox Sports recently released their Top 100 Players in the NFL list – and there isn't a single member of the Kansas City Chiefs to be found.

(Although I saw Tony Gonzalez's name, felt momentarily vindicated, then remembered the reality. It still hurts.)

Really? Not one member of the Chiefs? You might not believe this, but I have an opinion on this. I am trying to take this with a grain of salt – remember that this is a sports network that employs Tony Siragusa.

I realize that the Chiefs are short at talent…well, nearly everywhere. There are some solid players, but not a lot of "he's one of the top two or three at his position in the league" types. Well, except for Jared Allen, but…

(Oh yeah…forgot about him, too.)

However, what really gets me is this list:

90. RB Cedric Benson, Bengals
80. RB Michael Turner, Falcons
48. RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
32. RB Ray Rice, Ravens
22. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
21. RB Steven Jackson, Rams
15. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings
5. RB Chris Johnson, Titans

The list got one former Texas Longhorn running back on the list, but they listed the wrong one. How is Jamaal Charles not on this list? Furthermore, how is he not rated above Cedric Benson? Heck, I would take Charles over Turner, Williams and Jackson on that list. I will (almost) guarantee that if Charles plays all 16 games this year, he will have more rushing yards, more total yards, and more receptions than any of those guys on the list (provided they stay healthy, too).

Charles may be an unknown…for now. I have a feeling when the 2011 version of this list comes out, Charles will be on it. And he will certainly be higher than Cedric Benson.

Top 10 NFC Games To Watch In 2010

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 07:16 PM PDT

10. “Don’t Blink You May Miss A Score Special”:  Week 1 – Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears. This has the makings of a high-powered shootout.  Biggest arms the league has to offer go head-to-head in what will be a wild offensive thriller.  Team with the ball last wins.  Both defenses have mediocre secondaries.  Aerial display of fireworks at its finest, Stafford vs. Cutler, the two most unpredictable, inaccurate, shaky gunslingers.  51-48 sound appealing?

9. “Clash Of Styles Collide In Lambeau”:  Week 13 – San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers. You would think the warm weather West Coast team would provide the pass-happy offense and the cold weather Midwest squad would give you the run it down your throat up the gut attack, right?  Both teams have playoff admirations in mind -49ers could be wrapping up the division while the Packers could be fighting for their playoff lives trying to keep up with division rival Minnesota.  In what should be an evenly matched affair and a big road test for San Francisco, you could argue that more could be riding on the line for Green Bay at this stage of the season.  Nonetheless, an entertaining NFC outer-conference battle between two storied franchises.

8. “Early Season Measuring Stick, Playoff Preview”:  Week 2 – New Orleans Saints @ San Francisco 49ers. Monday Night contest features two of the finest and innovative coaches.  Sean Payton’s explosive passing show against Mike Singletary’s tricky defensive unit.  X’s and O’s should not be underestimated with these two mastermind gurus.  I like this game a lot because the Niners have much to prove, and what better way to treat the home fans to an early season victory on MNF against the defending Super Bowl Champs!  Week 2 games often give way to crazy results and you have to believe something unexpected will come before this night is over.

7. “Hall Of Fame QB’s In The Nation’s Capital:  Week 12 – Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins. Tough, gutsy, confident, prideful…Winners.  They leave it all on the field.  Favre vs. McNabb – does it get any better than this?  Two of the most consummate professionals and persevering warriors we’ve ever seen take the gridiron will do whatever it takes to come out on top in this unique, one-of-a-kind match-up.  Two ultimate competitors who never miss a down square off in what will be Must-See TV come late November.

6. “Passing Wizards Take Center Stage”:  Week 9 – Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers. Two teams that many experts think have an excellent opportunity to represent the NFC in Dallas come February will meet Sunday Night in a pivotal NFC showdown.  Rodgers-Romo will be yet another prime time chance to catch an outstanding head-to-head QB duel.  How loaded is Dallas on both sides of the ball? Certainly you can make a case for Green Bay being just as stacked.  No doubt points will come easy, punters will be left at home, and quite possibly the winner might have the edge atop the conference in what will be a wide-open NFC.  Is there any reason not to tune in to NBC November 9th?

5. “The Game Inside The Game -Once Admired Hero Returns Home —To Boos”:  Week 4 – Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles. The beloved, yet often criticized, and misunderstood Donovan McNabb will have his hands full when the chance of a lifetime calls, to stick it to his former team in the NFC’s #5 game to watch in 2010.  What a golden opportunity for the future H.O.F. signal caller ran out of town because of his inability to deliver the city of Brotherly Love a Super Bowl championship to seek and capture revenge.  A coach’s nightmare, a fan’s dream come true.  Even better, a media-filled frenzy, as they will be chomping at the bit turning this game into a circus before the game even starts.  Post game recap, Donovan McNabb’s performance best described – a field day. 

4. “Legend Makes Another Visit To Old Stomping Grounds”:  Week 7 – Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers. Favre-Rodgers Round 3.  Favre returns to Green Bay!  Rivalry game will captivate even the most casual fan.  This will be the highest rated prime time game of the year.  Both teams love to score and both teams hate each other.  Both teams could be 6-0 vs. 5-0?  No, not a chance…

3. “Trying To Reach Your Level”:  Week 6 – Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings. 34-3.  No need for bulletin board material.  America’s Team remembers.  There season ended in the Metrodome, soaked in embarrassment and drenched in humiliation.  This game will mean so much to Dallas – Shall I say, “Statement Game”?  Circle this date on your calendar, if you haven’t already.

2. “Dethroning The Team Atop, Time For Payback.  Picking Up Where We Left Off, Time To Defend Our House, Our City, Our Crown -Our Supremacy”:  Week 1 – Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints.  5 Reason Why Vikings Will Win NFC Title Rematch

Any time you have “Twitter Wars” going back and forth between key players in May, four  months (baffled by this fiasco) before the actual game, you know there’s bad blood and you know this game has something more to it —and to top it off, we don’t have to wait because it kicks off the 2010 NFL season!  Imagine this game on Pay-Per-View!  Would you pay $44.95?  $49.95?  $54.95?  Do I have any takers? $59.95?  $64.95?  $69.95?  Is that my highest bid?  Could it spark your interest that much?  So much, that you would be willing to take out the wallet and throw down some cash on this Week 1 NFC Title Rematch?  Even in during these crazed economic times?  Vikings-Saints, The Sequel of the Overtime Thriller and Best Game of the 2009-2010 NFL Season.

1. “Tantalizing Thanksgiving Treat“:  Week 12 – New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys. Arguably the two most talented teams in all of football playing at the biggest stadium, on one of the biggest days for football -can you ask for any bigger of a scene, setting and stage?  This game has all the potential!  It takes the cake, it takes the top honors, and it will come at a time when teams are usually playing their best football.  All eyes will be feasting on the only game playing at the time and this game will live up to all the hype surrounding the atmosphere come Thanksgiving Day.  Dream scenario…10-0 vs. 10-0?  NFC Title Preview?  Must-See TV.

Safety Kevin Ellison Joins Seahawks for Second Time in One Week

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 06:17 PM PDT

Welcome back Kevin Ellison.

The safety, brought in on a waiver claim June 22 and then put back on waivers two days later, rejoined the Seahawks for the second time in seven days today when he signed with the team.  The Seahawks waived Ellison due to a failed physical.  According to Seattle’s communications department, Ellison cleared waivers and was then signed “in order to adjust contractual issues.”

An Associated Press story that came out when Seattle initially brought Ellison in reported that the former starting safety for the San Diego Chargers was booked and released on $10,000 bail in May after 100 Vicodin pills were found in Ellison’s car during a search of his car after he was pulled over in Redondo Beach, Cali. for speeding in a school zone.

The second-year safety was a four-year letter winner at the University of Southern California for former USC and current Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.

Fellow Texans Speak Out on LB Brian Cushing

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 05:53 PM PDT

Last week brought two reports concerning the four-game suspended, Houston Texans OLB Brian Cushing.  First, Yahoo Sports' The Shutdown Corner spoke with Texans OT Eric Winston, and second, spoke with Chicago Bears OLB Lance Briggs about Cushing's performance enhancing drug violation and suspension.

In Winston's interview with Doug Farrar of The Shutdown Corner, Winston commented on the affect of the suspension on Cushing:

He's been working just as hard. It's never been a question of the work, or the time he puts in. He's a great guy to have on your team, and a fun guy off the field. We all have his back here, and we're expecting great things from him in the 12 games he will get to play. He's going to come in and not miss a beat, and be the same All-Pro player he was last year.

In an interview with, Briggs told Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune:

"Cheaters rarely prosper.  I don't know what the whole deal was, but I just know he did things you ain't supposed to do."

Briggs still must be bitter about having to be re-voted to the NFL's All-Pro team at linebacker after Cushing's suspension; however, in the words of Briggs' teammate, Brian Urlacher, its "a touchy subject, with the way they test for everything."

Chargers Put Unhappy WR Vincent Jackson on the Trade Block

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 04:39 PM PDT

The Chargers are in a tough situation with some players that are unhappy and don’t want to report to camp till they get a new deal. One such player is now on the trading block reports the Sporting News.

Wide receiver Vincent Jackson, currently a restricted free agent who has said he’ll sit if he doesn’t get a new deal, on on the market, and a couple teams are already making calls on him.

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune says several teams are interested in trading for up and coming pass catcher. Seattle, who wanted wide receiver Brandon Marshall, are one of them.

The Chargers reportedly have made it clear they are interesting in moving Jackson and team officials have had discussions with the Seattle brass. The other named suitor is from Washington on the other coast, the Redskins.

It would be a tough blow to the Chargers, who had a star in the making in Jackson, and now may have to start from scratch from that spot if he gets moved.

Bengals RB Cedric Benson Charged with Assault in Texas

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 03:24 PM PDT

As a Bengals fan, you are used to the other shoe dropping.  After an offseason that was arguably the best the team has had in two decades, you had to be waiting for it.

Well, it did.

It came out today that Cedric Benson was charged with misdemeanor assualt following a May 30th altercation in which he punched someone in the face at…guess…a bar.

Benson has not released any comments on the matter, leaving that to his lawyer, Sam Bassett.

Mr. Benson has always been willing to cooperate with the Austin Police Department to tell his version of what happened so long as he could have a lawyer present. The Austin Police Department decided to go forward with obtaining a warrant without obtaining Mr. Benson's side of the story."

So much for the summer of love.  No word yet as to whether or not this could cause a league suspension for Commissioner Goodell.

Three Cardinals Make the Fox Sports Top 100 NFL Players List

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 01:38 PM PDT

First, let me inform the Cardinals Gabs readers that I've very recently returned from a two week trip to Greece.  I was, for the most part, unplugged from the rest of the world for the majority of the time.  As such, it'll take me a few days to get back in the fold, for which I apologize.  In the meantime, here's something to chew on.

Fox Sports has recently posted a Top 100 Players in the NFL list.   The Cardinals put up a respectable showing with three players making the cut.

  • 89.  DT, Darnell Dockett (3rd of 3 defensive tackles on the list)
  • 71.  S, Adrian Wilson (6th of 7 safeties on the list)
  • 6.    WR, Larry Fitzgerald (1st of 15 wide receivers on the list)

Considering that there's only three DTs on the list, Fox Sports thinks very highly of Dockett.  Only Albert Haynesworth (56)  and Kevin Williams (29) outranked the outspoken Darnell at the DT position.  Perhaps the honor bestowed is a bit undeserved due to position labelling.  First, Dockett isn't really a DT anymore; he's a DE.  Second, Haynesworth may not be a DT anymore; the Redskins plan to move him to NT.  Finally, the list breaks defensive linemen into DE, DT, and NT, which makes Dockett's ranking as one of three DTs on the list seem like more of an achievement than it really is.  It may be more accurate to note that Dockett is 11th of 12 defensive lineman on the list, which is still an achievement.  Consider, however, that Dockett may not even be the best DE on the Cardinals this year.  Calais Campbell should have a monster year after a breakout season last year.

On the flip side, I think Wilson should have been ranked higher than 71.  He's a beast that completely changes the Cardinals entire defense.  There are very few defensive players, let alone safeties, that can accomplish what Wilson does on a game by game basis.  His physical attributes combined with his athleticism puts him in rare company.

During the "jail break" offseason that experts say will cripple the Cards, Arizona lost two players on the list.

  • 82. ILB, Karlos Dansby, Dolphins
  • 74. WR, Anquan Boldin, Ravens

I think the Dansby ranking seems just about right.   This should provide Cardinals fans even more comfort considering Dansby's the highest paid linebacker in NFL history, but there are 15 linebackers on the list that are considered better than Dansby right now.

I believe Boldin's ranking should be higher, but the competition in front of him is pretty stiff.  In addition, Boldin's injury issues may have dropped him a few spots. When he's healthy, however, I believe he's clearly better than (70) Calvin Johnson and (62) Sydney Rice, but the rest of the list is a hard sell; take a look:

  • 54. Wes Welker, Patriots
  • 53. DeSean Jackson, Eagles
  • 52. Greg Jennings, Packers
  • 35. Reggie Wayne, Colts
  • 28. Randy Moss, Vikings
  • 27. Steve Smith, Panthers
  • 16. Andre Johnson, Texans
  • 6.   Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

I also believe that Reggie Wayne's ranking is too high.  If you put him with any quarterback other than Manning, his receptions, TDs, and yards would drop sharply.  In terms of pure talent and playmaking ability, I think Welker, Jackson, and Jennings should be ranked higher than Wayne.

The highest paid safety in the NFL history, Antrel Rolle, was not one of the seven safties that made the list.  If Rolle doesn't make some big plays this year or even regresses a little, the NY fans will be calling for his head.  Good luck, Antrel.

First Overall Pick Rams QB Bradford Expects to be Signed Before Training Camp

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 12:59 PM PDT

Rams training camp is about a month away and QB Sam Bradford expects to be signed and in camp before camp opens.  He tells at the NFL rookie symposium:

"At this point right now (agent Tom Condon) hasn't given me any indication that there's going to be any problems getting a contract done," Bradford said Tuesday while at the NFL Rookie Symposium. "I expect to be in camp, on time."

Emphasis mine, but the point is there.  Rams executive Kevin Demoff has no history of allowing draft picks to hold out and Sam Bradford's agent Tom Condon is not an agent that is associated with advising his players to hold out.

There is no indication that Sam Bradford would hold out, but there will still be a sigh of relief from yours truly when he signs because he will need as much work with the team as possible to get up to speed as a rookie quarterback in the NFL.

JaMarcus Russell to Wear Viking Purprle in 2010?

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 12:57 PM PDT


"Sources tell ESPN New York that the Jets have inquired about free agent JaMarcus Russell. ESPN's Rich Cimini characterizes the Jets' interest as "monitoring," and expects the team to opt for free agent Mark Brunell behind Mark Sanchez. Russell is currently in Arizona trying to get in shape. Cimini calls Arizona and Minnesota more likely landing spots for the ex-No. 1 overall pick. "

I feel this story goes two ways.

First, why the heck would we ever consider this jokester? So I'm not even going to go down that path.

The interesting thing to me is that this means Webb must be doing quite well. We are now down to 3 quarterbacks – well at least that will show up for training camp. Webb needs reps, and it looks like he is going to get them. Either the kid looks great in pads, or our coaches have something up there sleeves.

Previewing the Lions 2010 Running Back Position

Posted: 29 Jun 2010 12:53 PM PDT

Going into the 2009 season the Lions wanted to base the offensive attack around a steady running game that would set the table for an aggressive downfield passing attack.  The Lions' running game finished 24th in the league in rushing yards, rushing attempts per game and 25th in yards per carry in 2009.  They finished 31st in both rushes over 20 yards and rushes over 40 yards.  Needless to say, the table was not set for the aggressive downfield passing attack and the offense struggled to create big plays despite the best big play receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson.

Injuries, inconsisntancy and a change in philosophy were the two biggest obstacles that the Lions running game was unable to overcome in 2009.  Kevin Smith was banged up early in the season and was slow to adapt to the change in philosophy.  The Lions were a zone blocking team in 2008, a scheme that Kevin Smith spent his entire career in.  The Lions switched to a more balanced blocking scheme that featured zone and man running plays, but more of a "downhill" running mentality.

In a zone blocking scheme the back takes the handoff and patiently reads his blockers and allows the play to develop before determining which hole to run through.  The Lions' offense called for more structured plays with designated holes that require the back to hit the hole decisively.  Smith was finally starting to get acclimated to the scheme when he suffered his season-ending knee injury.

Injuries and  inconsistency plagued the offensive line and outside of two or three games, the rushing attack never got on track.  Scott Linehan and Jim Schwartz are both proponents of a strong running game, so there was a high priority placed on adding personnel to accomplish that goal during the offseason.

Two subjects have dominated discussions of the Lions' backfield this offseason, the addition of Jahvid Best with the 30th overall pick and the recovery of Kevin Smith.  I am a big fan of Jahvid Best, but Kevin Smith's recovery may be the more integral to the Lions' success this season.

Jahvid Best provides the Lions with their first legitimate game breaking threat since Barry hung up the cleats.  Best is not the next Barry Sanders, but he offers a similar big play threat that should open up the passing game and cause defensive coordinators to honor the Lions' running game.

Best can't be relied on to do it himself though.  While I don't think Best's size or injury history will be a limitation, I do think the "rookie wall" will be.  College players play 12-13 games a year, Best only played nine last season due to the season-ending concussion.  This season he is expected to play in 20 games, most likely as the Lions' starting running back.  The Lions need a second back to help keep Best fresh all season and prevent him from hitting the rookie wall.  If Best fades down the stretch, all the benefits he brings to the offense become moot.

By all accounts, Kevin Smith is ahead of schedule in his recovery.  Although, when is the last time a player/coach has said a player is behind schedule or struggling with rehabbing an injury?  When healthy, Smith is a slashing runner that is competant in every phase of the game but doesn't stand out in any.  He is shifty in the hole, catches the ball well out of the backfield, has decent power and the quarterbacks trust him in pass protection.  I have always likened him to a poor man's Marion Barber.

Maurice Morris is a veteran presence in the backfield who is a capable starter for short periods and has made a career as the second back in the rotation as well as a very good thrid down back.  He is a little faster than Kevin Smith but isn't as adept at shedding tackles.  He will be relied on to bridge the gap if Smith's recovery isn't complete by Week 1.

Aaron Brown is elusive and difficult to grasp, both literally and figuratively.  He would flash playmaking ability one play and the next play he would look so lost you'd swear he was blindfolded.  Brown has big league speed and acceleration, but needs to develop better focus and patience.  If Smith is healthy, Brown will most likely not make the active roster.

One of the biggest disappointments of the 2009 season was Jerome Felton.  Felton is a multi-dimensional fullback who was rarely asked to use that ability.  Felton carried the ball 575 times in college and set the school record for most points scored in a career.  Despite the impressive college resume, Felton only has 17 carries and 22 receptions in the NFL.  Felton struggled with assignment errors at times in 2009, perhaps the coaching staff was reluctant to give him more opportunities until he could handle his blocking assignments.

Jake Nordin and Matt Clapp will compete for the back up fullback slot, if the Lions decide to carry two.  Nordin has an edge due to his experience playing tight end and fullback last season.  Clapp rarely did anything but block in college as his 17 career touches show, but he was a solid special teamer and is the only pure fullback on the roster.

The Lions made two aggressive moves to acquire Best and almost as importantly LG Rob Sims.  Sims is entering the black hole known as the Lions starting left guard, where 15 others have ventured in the last nine years.  There are a lot of expectations on the two newcomers, but the front office and coaches obviously have faith that they represent the missing pieces.  Factor in the Lions' additions to the receiving corp and Matthew Stafford's continued development and the Lions have given the ground game all the help one could expect in a single offseason.

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