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ProFootballTalk: Why Arians in Arizona?
Glenn Dorsey didn’t try to undersell what defensive end Justin Smith meant to the 49ers defense when asked about Smith’s retirement last week.
Dorsey said you can’t replace “the baddest dude I’ve played with” and that the team’s plan moving forward is going to be for several players to pick up the slack. Dorsey is part of that group along with Darnell Dockett and younger players like Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial and first-round pick Arik Armstead. He thinks the injection of new blood will do good things for the defensive front.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that can play,” Dorsey said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “There are a lot of young guys that are hungry, so there’s a lot of good competition and guys are working hard. There shouldn’t be too much of a letdown.”
Dorsey may see more time at defensive end in the coming season as the 49ers recalibrate with Smith and Ray McDonald out of the picture and he said he’s close to being fully healed from the torn biceps that ended his 2014 campaign. Dockett is returning from a torn ACL and the 49ers will need the veterans to be a big part of the mix even with the hungry youngsters trying to fill their plates.
“That’s definitely the plan,” Mathis told the Detroit Free Press. “Anything other than that wouldn’t be us. It wouldn’t be what we’re building for. Like I said, we started something but we know that consistency has to carry on. That’s what the off-season is for: trying to fill in those gaps or even places that we were good at, getting better and those things as well. That’s what our scouts are for, that’s what the coaches coach for and that’s what we train for, to be better than we were last year.”
It’s easy to see why that’s the approach the Lions are taking, but it’s hard to believe they can actually do it. In addition to losing Suh, the Lions have lost their second- and third-best defensive tackles, Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley. Even with the arrivals of Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker, they’ve taken a step backward at that position. Detroit also lost defensive end George Johnson, who was third on the team in sacks last season. And none of the Lions’ draft picks are expected to start as rookies.
So despite Mathis’s high hopes, the Lions’ defense is likely to take a step backward this season. Last year it was the defense that carried Detroit to the playoffs, but if the Lions are going to remain a playoff team, they need the offense and special teams to pick up some of the slack.
If you want a primer on how quickly things can change in the NFL, the career arc of Jets cornerback Dee Milliner isn’t a bad place to start.
When the Jets took Milliner with the ninth overall pick of the 2013 draft, he was seen as a replacement for the newly departed Darrelle Revis in the starting lineup and the foundation of new General Manager John Idzik’s first draft in charge of the team’s personnel. Fast forward two years and Revis is back with the Jets while Idzik has been ousted from his job in favor of Mike Maccagnan.
As for Milliner? He’s not a starter after two years plagued by injuries, including a torn Achilles last year, and ineffectiveness. If those trends don’t come to an end, defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers suggests a roster spot might be hard to come by in 2015.
“When you look at Dee coming in, you see a guy still kind of working off of an injury, trying to get himself to 100 percent,” Rodgers said, via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “But as we looked at him, we expect Dee to compete for a position on the roster like everyone else. This was a top-10 pick, and we think he has a lot of ability and we expect him to compete.”
Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine joined Revis as free agent acquisitions with the Jets and none of them will be fighting for roster spots. The Jets also have 2014 third-rounder Dexter McDougle returning from a torn ACL to go with Darrin Walls, Marcus Williams and Milliner at corner.
Cimini suggests Milliner could start the year on the PUP list as he continues to return from the Achilles injury and that his $3.7 million in guaranteed money will help him hold onto a roster spot one way or another, but it’s clear that the paths of both Milliner and the Jets have veered significantly from where they were pointed in the first round of the 2013 draft.
The reward for going 3-13 was the third pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but the Jaguars can’t even enjoy that after losing Dante Fowler to a torn ACL in his first minicamp practice.
So if they’re going to improve, they’re going to need more from last year’s third pick, quarterback Blake Bortles.
While it’s hard to tell if the cast around him has improved enough to make them better, Bortles himself is putting in the time to help himself.
Via Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union, Bortles is like many quarterbacks honing his craft with an off-site quarterback tutor. He’s working with a group in California including former Major League pitcher Tom House, who has worked with everybody from Tom Brady to Tim Tebow, to many in between.
“This offseason, Blake did everything he could to improve his craft,” said Adam Dedeaux of 3DQB. “It’s not just about working hard, but smart, making sure everything you do has a purpose.
“Blake really worked smart this offseason. He now has a process that’s going to work for him to be successful, which is the main goal. His attention to detail, wanting to get better, his expectations of himself, are right there with the best. I know he’s taking that into training camp. The dude got after it.”
The group, which includes House, Dedeaux and former NFL quarterback John Beck spent two months working with Bortles on bio-mechanics, conditioning, nutrition and the mental game.
But Bortles is also physically different now, down from 250 pounds to 238, hopefully in better shape for his second season.
And while his offseason focus is no guarantee of success, for Jaguars fans, it’s what they have to cling onto at this point.
The Steelers kick off organized team activities this week and they’ll be getting to work without Dick LeBeau for the first time since 2003.
The longtime defensive coordinator is in Tennessee now, leaving longtime Steelers assistant Keith Butler in charge of the defense. This week’s work will be the first chance the Steelers have had to run team drills under Butler, but defensive end Cam Heyward said that no one should expect any radical differences from what the team ran with LeBeau calling the shots.
“I don’t think there are going to be too many changes,” Heyward said, via the team’s website. “It’s going to be the same details. We will have a couple of new wrinkles, but we won’t share them now.”
Without any major schematic shifts to figure out, the Steelers should have plenty of time to focus on integrating young players into key roles on a defense that’s changed a lot of personnel of late. The team has drafted 10 defensive players over the last two years to replace departing veterans and they’ll need several of them to step up this year. Heyward thinks fellow defensive end Stephon Tuitt is ready.
“He has been in certain situations most rookies don’t get to be in. He has been in dog fights,” Heyward said. “For me, I was behind Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel and they were going through the dog fights. If they weren’t playing I would get my opportunity. We expect Tuitt to be ready to go game one. Tuitt has a high ceiling and we are going to see how high it is.”
If the likes of Tuitt, Ryan Shazier, Senquez Golson and Bud Dupree can make strides in 2015, the Steelers should be on better footing defensively. If they don’t, expect more shootouts in Pittsburgh again this season.
The agitation through his agent ended when the draft came and went without the Vikings trading running back Adrian Peterson. The motivation to no longer play for the team reportedly lingers.
According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, Peterson still wants out of Minnesota.
Per Robinson, Peterson will skip the entire offseason program, not just the first week of Organized Team Activities. Which means that Peterson will forfeit a $250,000 workout bonus.
The next question becomes whether he’ll skip a mandatory minicamp, which runs from June 16-18. If he doesn’t show, Peterson can be fined $12,155 for missing the first day, $24,300 for missing the second day, and $36,465 for missing the third day — a total of $72,920.
Given that he’ll already lose $250,000 by skipping voluntary workouts, what’s another $72,920? However, Peterson has been careful not to say or do anything that would directly indicate to the public that there’s a real problem, relying instead on the words of his agent and/or Peterson’s father, along with a stream of leaks to the media, with the latest coming from a “longtime Peterson confidant.” Failing to show up for mandatory minicamp would become the first tangible action from Peterson himself that a significant problem exists.
The news that Peterson still wants out is a bit of a surprise. The leaks regarding his desire to leave had ended with the draft. And agent Ben Dogra had openly accepted that the Vikings want to keep Peterson.
But Dogra also said he wants a “commitment to make him retire as a Viking.” Appearing earlier this month on PFT Live, Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman declined to comment on any talks or efforts to upgrade Peterson’s contract, which currently carries no guaranteed money over the final three years. (As a practical matter, though, he’ll get his full salary of $12.75 million for 2015 if he’s on the roster as of Week One.)
It’s hard to reconcile Peterson’s desire to leave Minnesota with his desire to get more guaranteed money to stay. If he truly wants out, more guaranteed money shouldn’t matter. Robinson reports that it is a “far more personal issue” between player and team, and that it “has never been about the money.”
Which likely means it’s always been about the money.
Whether it’s about the money or not (it is), the Vikings aren’t about to trade him — absent an offer that would give them no choice but to do it. With the 2015 draft over, it will be harder for an interested team to pull it off.
Recently, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones mused that his desire to win now could induce him to give up a 2016 first-round pick to get the right player. While Jones wisely didn’t mention Peterson, who else would they need at this point? Still, it’s unlikely the Vikings would take only a 2016 first-round pick at this point.
And so the impasse about money or something other than money (money) will continue, until mandatory minicamp arrives and either Peterson accepts that the Vikings won’t be trading him or he calls the Vikings on their not-so-subtle “play for us or play for no one” stance and fails to show up.
The stakes are fairly high. With $12.75 million in base salary due for 2015 and $2.4 million in unearned signing bonus payable back to the Vikings, the $322,920 he’ll lose by not showing up for the offseason program or minicamp is the tip of a $15,472,920 iceberg.
So look for Peterson to eventually show up. At some point, he’ll work through the anger-denial-bargaining-depression and accept that he has no leverage here. The harder his agent, family, and/or unnamed confidants try to paint Peterson as a victim, the worse he’ll look.
A look at the Bills safeties heading into OTAs.
Said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin of the team’s new wide receivers, “So the biggest thing from a coach’s seat is let’s get these guys out on the field, let’s get them as many reps as we possibly can, as many looks and as many different coverages as we can so we can prepare them to play fast and decisive.”
Some questions for the Ravens to answer as OTAs get underway.
The Bengals have gone for two after touchdowns three times in the last four years.
Breaking down some storylines for the next phase of the Browns offseason.
95-year-old Edward Burnham took part in a 5K run sponsored by the Chiefs.
Measuring the offseason improvement of the Giants.
What work do the Redskins need to do at cornerback?
Grading the Lions’ offseason moves.
Vonnie Holliday reminisces about playing next to Reggie White on the Packers defensive line.
Previewing the start of Vikings organized team activities.
The Falcons’ running back competition should be heating up.
Do the new PAT rules give the Panthers an edge?
A look at the Saints’ kicking competition.
The Buccaneers defensive coaches are more comfortable in their second season with Lovie Smith.
Technically speaking, Tampa is in the running for Super Bowls in 2019 and 2020.
But unless the Glazer family comes up with a plan (i.e. money) to upgrade Raymond James Stadium, those bids might not go anywhere in the face of new and renovated buildings elsewhere.
Via Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune, the Buccaneers are “currently negotiating” with the Tampa Sports Authority and Hillsborough County officials on plans to refurbish the 17-year-old stadium. Team COO Brian Ford is described as “confident” those plans will materialize soon.
Without them, the Bucs may have a hard time landing the big game.
The NFL has long used Super Bowls as both carrot and stick to leverage new stadiums and upgrades to existing ones.
Atlanta figures to be a shoe-in for building a brand new retractable roof facility next to the Georgia Dome, and with Los Angeles entering the mix for a title game soon, competition is going to be tough. That’s why Dolphins owner Stephen Ross just poured in $400 million to improve Sun Life Stadium.
“We got invited this time because basically Mr. Ross committed to make all the renovations,’’ Rodney Barreto, the chairman of the South Florida Super Bowl Committee said.
So unless the Glazers are willing to make (or find someone to make) a similar investment, it might be some time before the Super Bowl returns to Central Florida.
Does the NFL’s new rule moving extra point kicks back 13 yards make much of a difference to how teams assemble their rosters?
It does according to Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, who sees NFL teams signing players specifically for their ability to score on two-point conversions.
“I think there [are] going to be two-point specialists from the standpoint of how you go about doing it. Coaching, those are things that you work on,” Kubiak said, via Lindsay Jones of USA Today. “You probably practice those things during camp. It’s not very much and, all of a sudden, it becomes part of the game. That’s a big part of practice. It’s going to change the way you go about doing things. I know that.”
The player most often named as a potential two-point specialist is Tim Tebow, whose presence on the Eagles’ roster has some thinking that Chip Kelly must have some two-point conversion tricks up his sleeve. But if Tebow had some great ability to score consistently from the 2-yard line, why was he out of the NFL for the last two years? The ability to score on two-point conversions and goal line plays has always been valuable in football. Moving the extra point back doesn’t make it much more valuable than it already was.
If the Eagles’ proposal to move two-point conversions up to the 1-yard line had passed, that would have caused a significant change: Some teams would have started to go for two as the “default” position, and those teams would have assembled their rosters with that plan in mind. But the reality is, a 33-yard extra point kick isn’t much harder for an NFL kicker than a 20-yard kick, and so teams aren’t going to go for two much more this year than they did last year. Those two-point conversion specialists may be coming to the NFL eventually, but only if the extra point rules change more in the future.
At some point this week, someone can ask him if he knew it wasn’t going to be soon.
According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the less-than-gruntled running back won’t be on hand when the Vikings begin OTAs Tuesday.
The Vikings have said they weren’t interested in dealing Peterson, and with the draft come and gone, any realistic window for moving him is closed.
But now, the absences become costly for Peterson, who has a $250,000 workout bonus that hinges on his appearance at 90 percent of the team’s OTAs and minicamps.
Whether he shows up this week and in time to collect remains to be seen, but the current plan is for him to not be there Tuesday.
Of course, losing a quarter of a million is one thing for most of us, but Peterson’s set to make $13 million this year. So whether this is just posturing, it’s at least the latest sign he’s not happy in Minnesota.
On Sunday, we learned something: if you hold a rally supporting a star quarterback suspended due to allegations of deflated footballs, they will come.
Brady, the Patriots’ four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, has been banned for the first four regular season games of 2015 by the NFL. He is appealing.
The demonstration, per a Facebook page advertising the event, was intended to “protest the unjust football arrest of half God half man Tom Brady.”
According to media reports, the demonstration included a recently married couple that is not honeymooning in Bermuda in solidarity with with the Patriots after Brady’s four-game suspension.
“We want to be here to support our Patriots, and until that ban is lifted we’re not going on our honeymoon,” said Paul Goodrow of Watertown, Mass., according to the Boston Herald. “Our whole house is like a man cave.
“The NFL debacled this so-called Deflategate. It’s just ridiculous. It’s all because of fans from other states who hate us because they ain’t us. I believe that he is innocent. This is just a smear campaign against the Patriots.”
There was no indication any Patriots staff were present for the rally.
New England begins its organized team practice activities on Tuesday.
In less than four weeks, all NFL clubs will have wrapped up their organized offseason workouts.
Not surprisingly, then, the upcoming week will be a working one around the league.
Thirty-one of 32 NFL clubs will hold organized team practice activities (OTAs) between Tuesday, May 26 and Friday, May 29. Only the Rams will not be holding any club-overseen workouts this week.
OTAs are non-padded, non-hitting practices in which coaches can instruct players. Players can wear helmets, and full team drills are allowed, per the CBA between NFL teams and players.
The majority of clubs will have OTAs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before calling it a week. However, others will mix in a day off. The Patriots, for instance, are set to work on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Here are the days in which teams will hold OTAs this week:
Buffalo: Tuesday-Wednesday; Friday.
Cleveland: Tuesday-Wednesday; Friday.
Green Bay: Wednesday-Friday.
Kansas City: Tuesday-Thursday.
Miami: Tuesday-Wednesday; Friday.
New England: Tuesday; Thursday-Friday.
New Orleans: Tuesday-Thursday.
N.Y. Giants: Wednesday-Friday.
N.Y. Jets: Tuesday-Thursday.
St. Louis: None.
San Diego: Tuesday-Thursday.
San Francisco: Wednesday-Friday.
Seattle: Tuesday-Wednesday; Friday.
Tampa Bay: Tuesday-Thursday.
Veteran free agents trying to catch on with a team before the end of offseason work are running short on time, but they can be heartened by the fact that teams are still taking a look at who’s available on the open market.
Wide receiver Kris Durham was a guest on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Alex Marvez and Zig Fracassi and said that he’s had workouts with both the Saints and Cowboys recently. Durham played for the Titans last season.
The Saints recently added Josh Morgan to their receiving corps and Drew Brees has talked up the chance to see Nick Toon and Seantavius Jones get more looks behind Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks during the 2015 season. Throw in Joe Morgan and Durham would likely have a tough route to playing time in New Orleans.
Dallas has a bit less depth with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley backed up by a group of players short on experience and Durham played for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan in Detroit. Mickey Spagnola of the Cowboys website adds that the team also worked out former 49ers first-round pick A.J. Jenkins and reports there’s a good chance the team adds a “somewhat veteran” wideout in the coming weeks.
Steven Jackson is out after two years as the Falcons’ top running back. At the moment, the plan is for last year’s fourth-round pick and this year’s third-round pick to split the job of taking Jackson’s place.
Whether Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan sticks with a two-back system throughout the season remains to be seen. Both Freeman and Coleman will get the opportunity to separate himself during training camp. But it will be an equal opportunity for both players.
It also remains to be seen what the Falcons will get out of Antone Smith, who played very well in limited action last season before breaking his leg. Smith has played very sparingly so far in his career, but when he has had the ball in his hands, he’s been fantastic: He has averaged 9.9 yards on 29 carries and 15.5 yards on 15 catches. A trio of Freeman, Coleman and Smith may make the Falcons better at running back without Jackson than they were with him.
There’s apparently a little-known principle of journalism that goes like this: Fool me once, shame on me. Now fool me again!
Four months after allowing itself to provide the primary catalyst for #DeflateGate via a false report that sparked a frenzy, ESPN is currently helping to boost artificially the perception that there are no problems at all with the decision of Commissioner Roger Goodell to personally handle the appeal of the four-game suspension imposed on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Appearing as of this posting on the front page of ESPN’s NFL page is this headline: “Lawyers endorse Goodell hearing Brady appeal.” With no explanation of which lawyers to which the headline refers, it isn’t clear who exactly is endorsing the decision. Which prompted me to click on the story. Which made the link pretty good click bait.
So I clicked. And I was greeted with this headline: “Lawyers recommend Roger Goodell hear Tom Brady appeal.” Which is actually a little stronger than “endorse.” Which prompted me to read more than the headline, in order to find out who was doing the recommending.
Here are the first two sentences of the article: “Attorneys for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have recommended that Goodell reject the NFLPA’s request that he recuse himself from hearing Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension. While Goodell still could step aside as arbitrator, he would be doing so against the advice of his lawyers.”
Which apparently makes it all OK.
The article then says nothing more about who made the recommendation or why the recommendation was made or whether Goodell relied on the recommendation in making the decision to handle the appeal. It cites no sources, named or unnamed, for the report that Goodell’s lawyers made the recommendation, and it credits no reporter until the very end of the story, where it adds in italics, “ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press contributed to this report.”
In all, it looks and feels like an effort to artificially legitimize Goodell’s decision to handle the appeal to a potentially skeptical public. The clear takeaway isn’t that Goodell is intent on handling the appeal personally; it’s that the lawyers advised him to do it. So he’s not doing what he wants to do in order to ensure that he decides the matter in light of the broader business interests of the league or because he simply wants to control everything, he’s simply doing what the lawyers have told him to do.
Which apparently makes it all OK.
It’s a distinction without a difference, since: (1) the lawyers work for him and will be inclined to tell him what he wants to hear; and (2) the lawyers presumably are moving in lock step with Goodell on his intent to make the decision without deferring to anyone truly neutral and independent, who would then have the power to scuttle the findings and conclusions that Ted Wells charged the league millions of dollars to reach, possibly at the direct or indirect behest of the league.
As NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said Friday on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, “The Wells report delivered exactly what the client wanted.” And that’s a common dynamic in American business. Lawyers routinely provide an “independent analysis” that gives credence and credibility to the thing the client wants to have credence and credibility when judged by someone else.
It’s still unclear whether that’s exactly what happened as to the findings of the Wells report. It’s very clear that’s what happened as to the “recommendation” that Goodell personally handle the Wells report. And it’s abundantly clear that ESPN has gone out of its way to help sell to the public the notion that the decision has a degree of credence and credibility that ultimately is meaningless — even though it was ESPN that undermined its own brand by passing along blatantly false information in the early days of #DeflateGate that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs measured at two full pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum.
ESPN’s ongoing willingness to carry water for the league on this topic is surprising in light of the lie it was told. Then again, with hardly anyone wagging a finger at ESPN for allowing itself to be so grossly manipulated, it’s easy for ESPN to react to the situation like Kevin Bacon taking a paddle to the ass in Animal House.