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John Elway: NFL’s not better at finding QBs, QBs are better

John Elway AP

Last year’s draft class of quarterbacks was a unique one, with eight rookies starting at some point in the season, and more than half of them playing well.

But according to Broncos executive John Elway, the rising tide of young quarterbacks is a function of improved play, rather than improved scouting.

Asked if the improved batting average on picking quarterbacks was because the league had learned something, Elway replied simply: “I think quarterbacks are getting better. . . . We’re getting guys that are much better prepared.”

With the proliferation of 7-on-7 leagues at the high school level (and younger), to the individual instruction most draftable quarterbacks are getting now, there’s a higher level of training that passers are getting, which is raising the bar.

That doesn’t mean teams aren’t going to miss with this year’s crop, especially in a class where many personnel types are talking about the holes in their games, but the floor has been raised.

Of course, Elway still wants to see the intangibles in any passer he’s considering. He offered input to the league on the new personality test that was created to supplement the Wonderlic.

He said he was asked what he wanted to see measured, and he told the test-makers he’d wanted to see if they could gauge competitiveness.

Granted, he hasn’t seen the test to see how that manifested itself, and it seems no one has.

But as years pass, that too will be taught to the quarterbacks coming in, extending the cycle of preparedness.

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Rams sign former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter

Colter AP

Kain Colter wasn’t able to unionize college football players at Northwestern, but at least he gets to be the answer to a trivia question.

Via Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register, Colter became the first player signed by the Rams since relocating to Los Angeles.

Colter went to camp with the Vikings in 2014 as a wide receiver, and spent the year on the practice squad there, but was released in May.

Colter was out of the league last year.

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Chargers complete overhaul of coaching staff

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 30:  Tommy Rees #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish drops back to pass against the Stanford Cardinal during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chargers didn’t make a change at head coach this offseason, but Mike McCoy’s staff did get a serious renovation at the end of a 4-12 campaign.

There will be 11 coaches in positions they weren’t in last season, nine of whom are new to the organization. The last two of those new arrivals were announced on Tuesday with the team naming Tommy Rees as offensive assistant and Marquice Williams as special teams assistant.

Rees will be familiar to Notre Dame fans after starting 30 games at quarterback for the Fighting Irish between 2010 and 2013. He played with several Chargers, including college roommate and current center Craig Watt.

“It is definitely a different type of situation,” Watt said, via the team’s website.  “I don’t even know how to go about describing it!  But when we are on the field, it will be all business and very professional.  I think it will be fine, but it is definitely strange and a little different.”

Rees was a graduate assistant at Northwestern last season. Williams has interned with the Bears and Lions and spent the last four seasons at the University of South Dakota.

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Philly Brown: Talib “immature,” but hope he isn’t suspended

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Corey Brown #10 of the Carolina Panthers runs after a catch as  Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos grabs his facemask during the tackle in the second quarter during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

In the first half of Super Bowl 50, Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib picked up a personal foul for throwing Panthers wide receiver Philly Brown to the ground by his facemask.

After the game, Talib said that he did it on purpose because he “just had to show [Brown]” after exchanging words with him earlier in the game and that he didn’t think it was a big deal since the Panthers gained just over a yard as a result of the foul occurring on the Broncos’ three-yard-line. The NFL may not agree as they’re considering suspending Talib, who was also suspended one game during the 2015 season for poking Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in the eye.

Brown said on Twitter Tuesday that he doesn’t want Talib to be suspended, especially if it would keep him out of the Panthers’ trip to Denver next season.

“I don’t think Talib should be suspended. I hope he plays when we travel to Denver next year. He was frustrated that’s what immature pros do!!” Brown wrote.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn’t offer an opinion about whether Talib should be suspended, but said, via the Charlotte Observer, he wished Talib wouldn’t have done it and said the cornerback’s admission “adds credence to the argument” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made last week about ejecting players who commit two personal fouls in a game.

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Mike Tolbert hopes he gets a chance to return to Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Mike Tolbert #35 of the Carolina Panthers is introduced during their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Mike Tolbert did something in the Super Bowl he hadn’t done with the Panthers — lost a fumble.

And he hopes he gets a chance to make up for it.

The veteran fullback, who is about to become an unrestricted free agent, said he wanted a chance to return to the Panthers next season.

“Do I want to be? Yeah. Do they want me is the question,” Tolbert said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “I can’t sign a contract by myself. It remains to be seen.”

Tolbert has done plenty of good things for the Panthers since arriving in 2012. And he had always taken good care of the ball, with his last fumble in 2011 when he was with the Chargers. But he bobbled it twice in the Super Bowl, recovering one of them.

The 30-year-old Tolbert said he thinks he still has four or five seasons left “at a high All-Pro level.”

And while his are the kind of contributions that are hard to quantify, he’s been a big part of the Panthers offense since arriving. He can run in short yardage, block, and is a good receiver out of the backfield in addition to playing special teams. He’s made two Pro Bowls in his four seasons with the Panthers, and had four touchdowns this year.

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Lynn Swann doesn’t see Megatron as a Hall of Famer

Calvin Johnson AP

Former Steelers receiver Lynn Swann retired at age 30 with 336 catches for 5,462 yads and 51 touchdowns. But Swann says that Calvin Johnson, who’s expected to retire at the age of 30 with 731 catches for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns, shouldn’t join him in the Hall of Fame.

“I would think that it would be difficult for Calvin Johnson at this point to be considered a Hall of Famer,” Swann told the Detroit News. “Calvin Johnson has an extreme amount of talent and ability, but when you start to look at his team, the success of his team and did he lift that team; he made them a little bit better, but at the end of the day, I’m not quite sure.”

That argument is, frankly, ridiculous. Swann is essentially saying that because he won four Super Bowl rings on a 1970s Steelers team that was among the most talented ever, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. But because Johnson suffered the fate of being drafted onto a team built by Matt Millen, he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

Super Bowl rings are a team accomplishment, and no one would dispute that Swann was on much, much better teams than Johnson. But the Hall of Fame is about individual accomplishment, and on that score Megatron easily beats Swann. Megatron owns the all-time NFL record for receiving yards in a season, led the league in receiving yards twice and led the league in catches and touchdowns once each. Swann never led the league in catches or yards and was only in the Top 5 in either category once, in 1977, when he was fourth in the league in receiving yards. Johnson was a first-team All-Pro three times; Swann was a first-team All-Pro once. Johnson was a six-time Pro Bowler; Swann was a three-time Pro Bowler.

But Swann harps on team accomplishments.

“Hard to say he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame when his team hasn’t gotten to a Super Bowl, and they don’t get a chance to get into the playoffs,” Swann said. “And that’s for a lot of guys across the board. If he had broken every passing record, like Danny Fouts, who didn’t win the Super Bowl, then yeah, I think there’s going to be consideration.”

Fouts didn’t actually break every passing record, but he and Swann are friends and former broadcasting colleagues, so apparently Swann is willing to bend the facts for a buddy. For Megatron, Swann would prefer to keep the Hall of Fame doors shut.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

Marshawn Lynch AP

Should the Bills cut LeSean McCoy?

Dolphins quarterback Earl Morrall, who died last year at age 79, was diagnosed with CTE.

Dante Scarnecchia could be just what the Patriots’ offensive line needs.

Jets G Brian Winters is getting a $1 million raise.

In Baltimore, they say the Broncos’ defense doesn’t compare to the 2000 Ravens.

Can the Bengals win their first Super Bowl a year from now?

The Browns could be interested in QB Brock Osweiler.

The Steelers signed a guard to a future contract.

A former Texans linebacker is heading to the CFL.

Although Colts K Adam Vinatieri is about to become a free agent, he doesn’t appear interested in signing elsewhere.

The Jaguars get 1.8 times as much revenue from a game in London as a game in Jacksonville.

Michael Griffin said he had a feeling the Titans were going to cut him yesterday: “As soon as that phone call came in, I told my fiancée, `Hey, I think I’m about to get released.’ You never get a phone call like that, especially early in the morning of the offseason from the head coach. So I just knew.”

Broncos GM John Elway commended Gary Kubiak for the way he handled the quarterback position all season.

Tony Gonzalez is hoping to be added to the Chiefs’ ring of honor.

The Raiders are long shots in the Super Bowl LI odds.

Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is looking forward to coaching Melvin Gordon.

Here’s a look at some defensive backs the Cowboys could target in the draft.

The Giants are in good enough cap shape that they’re not likely to cut anyone any time soon.

Should the Eagles draft a quarterback?

Are oddsmakers underestimating Washington’s chances in 2016?

Bears Hall of Famer Mike Singletary wonders if Cam Newton can take the heat.

Lions President Rod Wood is feeling optimistic about the 2016 season.

As usual under Ted Thompson, the Packers are in good cap shape.

The Vikings have plenty of offseason work to do.

Former Falcon Asante Samuel recently sold his house for $5.4 million.

Panthers QB Cam Newton will still be a hot commodity in the endorsement market, despite his disappointing Super Bowl.

The Saints are looking for a long-term answer at kicker.

Hall of Famer Donnie Shell will present Tony Dungy at the Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals need a better pass rush.

Kain Colter is the first signing for the Rams in Los Angeles.

The 49ers’ playing surface held up pretty well in the Super Bowl.

Marshawn Lynch’s retirement announcement was fitting for a guy who hated talking to the media.

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Stedman Bailey still hopes for NFL return

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 07: Strong safety Phillip Thomas #41 of the Washington Redskins is stiff armed by wide receiver Stedman Bailey #12 of the St. Louis Rams in the third quarter of a game at FedExField on December 7, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Stedman Bailey was shot in the head twice on November 24, leading to surgery and a lengthy hospital stay that ended with Bailey headed home just before the start of 2016.

Along the way, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said that Bailey was probably done playing football as a result of the injuries he suffered in the shooting but Bailey’s not quite ready to write himself off. In a YouTube video shot by Geoff Coyle of West Virginia Illustrated and titled “Steddy Ambition,” Bailey admits his doctors are doubtful about his chances of returning and outlines one potential fear that’s been expressed to him.

“My neurosurgeon was also extremely concerned about me making a return to the NFL, because when I did get shot in the head, it was pretty much like the worst kind of concussions that you can have,” Bailey said. “Just being that football is such a physical sport, guys have concussions all the time. I would say that’s probably the scariest part about it, because at the end of the day, I just want to have my mind functioning where I can be a good family man, be a good dad, just be myself. That’s one thing I think is scary.”

Bailey is running and lifting weights, although the amount of weight he’s working with is down significantly from where he was before the shooting. That’s not stopping him from trying to “continue to live out my dream,” although it seems there’s still a fair distance to go before Bailey can realistically hope to return to the field.

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Mario Williams: Given the opportunity, I’ll get back to what I was

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Mario Williams #94 of the Buffalo Bills warms up before the game against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images) Getty Images

Defensive end Mario Williams wasn’t a fan of the defensive scheme the Bills ran during the 2015 season and he didn’t have much of a problem letting people know about it.

Williams, whose production dropped to five sacks after he had 38 in his first three years with the Bills, complained about the way he and others on the defense were being used on multiple occasions during the season. The year wasn’t over before reports surfaced that the Bills would release Williams to save nearly $13 million in cap space, something that Williams believes will be the first step toward an on-field resurgence.

“It’s kind of crazy when you are asked to do something that is totally different, but yet as a whole it didn’t work out defensively,” Williams said, via Josina Anderson of “But yet I’m the one whose production has fallen off? Like, that is why I’m saying, I’m prepared for anything because I know I’m going to prove a point and that is not even a question in my mind. At the end of the day, if I’m not there, I’ll show you that I’m better than what I’ve been before. Like, that’s just a chip on my shoulder regardless of whether I am there or not, because given the opportunity I’ll get back to what I was.”

Williams repeated his dissatisfaction with not being allowed to “attack and get after it” in the Bills scheme, so it’s clear what he’ll be looking for in a next stop. The Bills are free to part ways with him at any time and Williams would likely prefer sooner rather than later so that he can talk to teams before free agency floods the field with other options.

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Nearly half the league still hasn’t won a Super Bowl


The NFL now has closed the books on 50 Super Bowls. And in a 32-team league, only 19 of the teams have ever won a Lombardi Trophy.

Which means that (abacus engaged) 13 teams have never won a Super Bowl. That’s nearly half of the entire league.

The non-champions are the Bills, Browns, Bengals, Jaguars, Texans, Titans, Chargers, Eagles, Vikings, Lions, Panthers, Falcons, Cardinals.

Since the Buccaneers exited that list in Super Bowl XXXVII, only the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV and the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII have joined the ranks of the Lombardi owners.

So as the NFL embarks on the next 50 Super Bowls, the question is how much smaller this bizarro baker’s dozen will be after the NFL plays what likely will be the next championship game that ditches the Roman numeral C for 100.

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John Elway says Broncos among best defenses in NFL history

Super Bowl 50 Champion Denver Broncos at the Denver City and County Building on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50. Getty Images

The Broncos showed they were the best defense in the NFL over the course of the 2015 season and the playoffs.

And the man who built them thinks they deserve to be considered among the best of all-time.

During the Broncos victory parade yesterday, executive vice president John Elway made that bold proclamation to adoring fans.

“I know one thing: I wouldn’t want to play them. I’m glad I didn’t have to play them,” Elway said, via the Denver Post. “Obviously, we’re biased in the fact that we rode their coattails all the way to the championship.

“To me, to sit here and say, if you look at it, if you look at the performance in that Super Bowl, they are in the argument to be one of the best ever. It’s hard to say that they’re going to be that, but they’re in the argument, which is a compliment to them.”

Of course, there are other teams which might disagree with Elway, and you can too, down in the comments section.

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Former Panthers G.M. cheats death, as car hits radio studio

17529d1296072619-panthers-gm-marty-hurney-says-quarterback-teams-marty-hurney Getty Images

Reality came crashing down on the Panthers Sunday in the form of Von Miller and the Broncos defense.

For former Panthers G.M. Marty Hurney, it came in the form of a car coming through the window of his downtown radio studio, while he was on the air.

Hurney and former Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorensen were discussing the Panthers’ loss, and about to go to break Monday afternoon when a car wreck at a nearby corner sent one of the vehicles through the window of the studio at ESPN 730. The studio sits on a corner near Bank of America Stadium, not far from where quarterback Cam Newton was hit by a car in 2014.

The station posted audio of the moment of the crash, which is hilarious as soon as you realize no one was hurt. In fact, you can hear Hurney asking reporter Molly Cotten if she’s OK moments before she sent them to a break.

And they realized the humor too, after the fact.

“You should have seen Sorensen sprint out of the room,” Hurney said via text. “Lucky he didn’t pull a hammy.”

The identity of the driver who nearly became a part of Hurney’s show (or nearly ended it) is unclear, though suspects include the Jake Delhomme contract extension of 2009 and every running back in the NFL who was trying to get him to throw money at them.

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Young Peyton had a very specific way of picking on a younger Eli

Zz1lM2QxNzk5ODEwOGRmY2IyOWQzZjdmMzc3OGQ4NDlhNg== AP

In the two-plus days since the Super Bowl, much has been said about Eli Manning’s blank stare after it became apparent that his brother, Peyton, would win a second Super Bowl ring. Two days before the Super Bowl, Eli shared some details of a time when Peyton’s actions were eliciting something other than blank stares from his kid brother.

During a Friday visit to PFT Live at the Super Bowl, I asked Eli to share details regarding some of the worst things his older brothers, Peyton and Cooper, did to him when they were young.

“You know they were pretty nice to me,” Eli said. “I think the biggest thing they did, mostly Peyton because you know Cooper is older than him, [Cooper] would pick on [Peyton]. So I come along, I’m gonna take it. So [Peyton] would pin me down, you know, put his knees on my arms. He’d just start knocking on my chest until I named at the the time the 28 teams in the NFL. So I got smart eventually I could rip those off pretty quickly. We went college divisions, different things and then if he just wanted to make me cry he’d say, ‘Name ten brands of cigarettes.’ I’m like, ‘I’m seven years old I haven’t started smoking cigarettes quite yet,’ but that’s when I’d just start yelling for mom.”

Until Sunday night, Eli had a leg up on Peyton with those two Super Bowl rings. And while Peyton insisted after the game that he and Eli don’t think in those terms, if they’re in any way normal, at some level it had at least crossed their minds. Eli’s story paints a picture of a very normal big brother/little brother relationship, and while as adults they undoubtedly support each other completely, the inner child who used to pin Eli down and knock on his chest surely is feeling relieved that they’re even, at least for now.

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Vilma: We didn’t game-plan to stop T.O.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

To the extent that the Hall of Fame voters unofficially opted for receiver Marvin Harrison over receiver Terrell Owens due to a de facto waiting line among wideouts, the unofficially official explanation was that Owens was a disruptive presence in multiple NFL cities. Another unofficially official explanation may have been available.

Former Jets and Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma recently explained that his teams didn’t game plan specifically to stop Owens, like they did with Randy Moss or Calvin Johnson. That an argument was used to keep receiver Art Monk out of the Hall of Fame for years, before he eventually got in.

Whatever the unofficially official reason, Owens eventually will get in. He’s now in the same waiting line that put Monk, Harrison, and others in after a delay from which only Jerry Rice has been exempt. And the waiting line is the officially unofficial reason for the decision to keep Owens out, at least for a year.

In contrast, quarterback Brett Favre got in on his first try with, reportedly, a six-second debate — even though it could have been argued that his annual flirtation with retirement from 2002 through 2007 followed by a retirement and strategically-timed unretirement in July 2008 was disruptive and distracting to his latter years with the Packers. While Favre’s wishy-washiness helped deliver Aaron Rodgers to Green Bay in the first round of the 2005 draft, Favre’s lack of a clear, unequivocal commitment to the game for nearly half of his career was a non-issue when it was time to coronate him with a spot in Canton.

For Owens, the coronation eventually will come. But someone had to lose the numbers game in 2016, and it was Owens. Apparently, an unofficially official explanation unrelated to disruptiveness may have been available.

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Reggie Bush says he has no plans to retire

Reggie Bush AP

Reggie Bush’s 2015 season came to an abrupt end after skidding on concrete at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis in November.

The slip left Bush with a torn ACL and ended his season after just five games with the San Francisco 49ers.

But despite the injury and the fact he’ll be 31 in March, Bush isn’t considering retirement yet. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Bush wants to keep playing in 2016.

“I’m not retiring,” Bush said. “I’m still playing. No, I’m not done. And I would never – knock on wood – I never want to end my career like that, going out with that.”

Bush had just eight carries for 28 yards in five games with San Francisco last season before the injury. He also carried just 76 times for 297 yards and two touchdowns in 2014 with the Lions as both seasons have been plagued by injuries.

Bush will be a free agent when the new league year begins next month.

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Super Bowl 50 first in 22 years without a touchdown pass

Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning, right, is sacked by Carolina Panthers’ Luke Kuechly (59) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) AP

The NFL has increasingly become more of a passing league over the last two decades as offensive production has exploded to previously unseen heights.

But Super Bowl 50 featured a rare occurrence when it comes to the NFL’s championship game.

Neither Peyton Manning or Cam Newton completed a touchdown pass in the Denver Broncos 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night. It’s just the first time in 22 years – and fourth time in history – that the Super Bowl didn’t feature a touchdown pass.

Super Bowl XXVIII between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills was the last Super Bowl without a passing touchdown. Emmitt Smith ran for two touchdowns in the Cowboys 30-13 win over the Bills.

Super Bowl VIII between the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings and Super Bowl III between the New York Jets and Baltimore Colts are the only other Super Bowls that didn’t feature a touchdown pass. The Dolphins beat the Vikings 24-7 behind two Larry Csonka rushing touchdowns. Matt Snell of the Jets and Jerry Hill of the Colts each found the end zone on the ground in the Jets’ 16-7 victory.

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