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PFT’s Week Six picks

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For the Week Six picks, I’m hoping MDS makes like MRS (Matthew Rutledge Schaub) and throws a pick six.

Making that wish somewhat unrealistic is the fact that we disagree on only three games.

Last week, he was 9-5 and I was 8-6.  His lead now stands at three games:  52-25 to 49-28.

If I’m right on all three, I’ll catch him.  And, yes, he and I may be the only two people in the world who actually care.

Giants at Bears

MDS’s take: Florio has done me a big favor with his stubborn insistence on continuing to pick the Giants, and I’m hoping he keeps going with the theory that the Giants are due for a win. (The Washington Generals are due to beat the Harlem Globetrotters any game now, too.) The Bears’ defense is good at forcing turnovers, and the Giants’ offense is good at turning the ball over. That’s a good combination for Chicago.

MDS’s pick: Bears 28, Giants 13.

Florio’s take:  The Giants are due to win.  The Bears are due to not lose.  The Bears are the better team.  The Bears are playing at home.  Advantage Bears.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 24, Giants 17.

Packers at Ravens

MDS’s take: Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco both signed enormous contracts this offseason, but only one of them is earning his money. The struggling Ravens’ offense will have a good opportunity to put some points on the board against a Packers defense that’s missing Clay Matthews, but Rodgers will do more damage than Flacco as the Packers win a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Packers 31, Ravens 27.

Florio’s take:  It’s rock-scissors-paper time in Baltimore, where the Ravens defense is becoming the rock and the Packers’ offensive line is running with scissors.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 24, Packers 20.

Bengals at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills’ defense is playing tough, physical football, and Kiko Alonso is my early pick for rookie of the year. If EJ Manuel were playing, I’d pick the Bills. Unfortunately, I just can’t pick a team to win a game when its starting quarterback was on the practice squad a week ago, and that’s what the Bills are doing with Thad Lewis starting. So I’ve got to go with the Bengals.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 16, Bills 13.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals can beat the teams they shouldn’t, and not the teams they should.  This is the weekend they need to turn it around, or they may not be getting beat in January.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 27, Bills 13.

Lions at Browns

MDS’s take: This is another game where a quarterback injury makes the difference. The Browns won all three games that Brian Hoyer started, and if Hoyer were still starting I’d pick Cleveland to make it four in a row. But with Brandon Weeden back under center, I think the Lions’ defensive line is going to wreak havoc against a quarterback who’s too slow to get rid of the football.

MDS’s pick: Lions 21, Browns 10.

Florio’s take:  The Browns have won three in a row, and they’re wrapping up a three-game home stand at the Factory of Gladness.  Without Calvin Johnson, the Lions aren’t the same team.  I’m guessing Johnson either won’t play or he’ll be too banged up to make a difference against a team that will come within a game of matching its 2012 win total after only six weeks.

Florio’s pick:  Browns 24, Lions 20.

Rams at Texans

MDS’s take: Houston has been playing some terrible football recently, but St. Louis is even worse. The Texans’ defense can shut down the Rams’ offense well enough that even another lousy game from Matt Schaub won’t lose it for Houston.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Rams 10.

Florio’s take:  Jeff Fisher returns to Houston with a team that has underachieved, to face a team that has underachieved.  Led by a quarterback who has underachieved.  (That applies to both teams.)  Even with the Texans battling against a home-field disadvantage, their defense is good enough to overcome whatever the quarterback does or doesn’t do.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 23, Rams 16.

Raiders at Chiefs

MDS’s take: Kansas City’s turnaround has been remarkable, and I’m particularly impressed with the aggressive defense the Chiefs are playing, led by the one-man wrecking crew that is Dontari Poe in the middle of the line. I like the way Terrelle Pryor is playing for the Raiders, but Poe is going to get in Pryor’s face all day and make him skittish with his passes.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 20, Raiders 9.

Florio’s take:  It’s been a long time since both teams in this storied rivalry were relevant.  The Chiefs are very relevant.  And very hard to beat at home.  It won’t be easy, but the Chiefs will finally have the same number of wins at 2012 Pro Bowlers.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 20, Raiders 17.

Panthers at Vikings

MDS’s take: Both of these teams seem like they should be better than their 1-3 records. If one of them is going to turn things around, I think it’ll be the one that has Cam Newton at quarterback, not the team that has Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel or Josh Freeman at quarterback.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 17, Vikings 14.

Florio’s take:  The chase to be the Vikings’ quarterback of the future begins on Sunday, as they host a team that thought it had one, but possibly doesn’t.  Losing coach lands on an even hotter seat.  Winner gets a heat reprieve, for at least a week.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 28, Panthers 21.

Steelers at Jets

MDS’s take: Say what you will about Rex Ryan, but the guy knows how to put together a good defense. He’s done it again this year, and coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is making strides with the offense, too. I still have a hard time seeing the Jets as a playoff contender, but they’ll be 4-2 after beating the woeful Steelers.

MDS’s pick: Jets 27, Steelers 7.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers are 0-5 and the Jets are 3-2 and many expected it to be the opposite.  The Jets have a strong front seven and the Steelers don’t have a strong offensive line and even though Pittsburgh beat the Giants last year in MetLife Stadium the Steelers are a shadow of what they were last year.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 17, Steelers 13.

Eagles at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Even with Nick Foles in place of Michael Vick, this is a game Philadelphia should win without too much trouble. The Eagles’ schedule is getting a lot easier. They beat the winless Giants last week, they’ll beat the winless Buccaneers this week, and they get the Giants again in two weeks. An 8-8 record may be enough to win the NFC East, and when you look at their schedule it’s easy to see the Eagles getting to eight wins. They’ll get win No. 3 on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Buccaneers 13.

Florio’s take:  Chip Kelly and company continue to take advantage of a soft spot in the schedule by running circles around a team that won’t be able to keep up with the Eagles offense, regardless of whether Nick Foles or Mike Vick is running it.  If Vick doesn’t play, it’ll be the first time in league history that both starting quarterbacks in the same game are Napoleon Dynamite dopplegangers.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 30, Buccaneers 20.

Jaguars at Broncos

MDS’s take: There’s no doubt who will win, but if I were betting this game against the spread (and I’m not), I’d pick the Jaguars to keep it closer than the 28-point margin. The Broncos are coming off an exhausting battle with the Cowboys and probably won’t be at their best. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the Broncos don’t have to be at their best to win this one.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 35, Jaguars 21.

Florio’s take:  Does watching this game count as rooting for the underdog or rubbernecking at a train wreck?  Survey says . . . . both.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 49, Jaguars 13.

Titans at Seahawks

MDS’s take: I’ve been impressed with the Titans all year, and they’re a better team than most people realize. But there’s no way Ryan Fitzpatrick is winning at Seattle.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 34, Titans 17.

Florio’s take:  It’s a shame Jake Locker is injured.  He’s missing the chance to come back to Seattle and have his team suffocated and his ear drums ruptured.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 24, Titans 10.

Saints at Patriots

MDS’s take: The best game of the week is in New England, where the Patriots need Rob Gronkowski to return against a surprisingly tough Saints defense. Even if Gronk is at full speed, however, I think Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham are a better pair right now than Tom Brady and Gronkowski, and I like the Saints to put up a lot of points.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Patriots 21.

Florio’s take:  The Saints proved that they can win away from home against a competent team like the Bears.  With an elite offense and a much-improved defense, why not a clean road sweep of the Super Bowl XX teams that played in New Orleans?

Florio’s pick:  Saints 27, Patriots 21.

Cardinals at 49ers

MDS’s take: The 49ers have put their stumbles behind them and are playing great football. The Cardinals are better than most of us expected, but there’s a clear NFC West pecking order, and the Cards are behind the Niners.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 31, Cardinals 10.

Cardinals at 49ers

Florio’s take:  Bruce Arians doesn’t “see the dominance” of the 49ers and Seahawks.  While the 49ers aren’t yet dominant this year, Arians probably won’t like what he sees.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 27, Cardinals 17.

Redskins at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Dallas’s defense is struggling, and Robert Griffin III may put up some big numbers. But Washington’s defense is struggling even more, and Tony Romo may put up some bigger numbers.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 35, Redskins 31.

Florio’s take:  Jerry Jones won’t be talking about moral victories come Monday.  He’ll have an actual victory.  You know, the kind where his team scores more points than the other.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 21, Redskins 13.

Colts at Chargers

MDS’s take: I’m amazed at the way the Colts keep shaking off injuries and finding ways to win. The Chargers are playing well on offense, but their secondary is a mess, and Andrew Luck should pick it apart.

MDS’s pick: Colts 34, Chargers 20.

Florio’s take:  The Chargers once were a thorn in Indy’s side.  The Chargers are now littered with thorns of their own, and the Colts have found a way in the post-Peyton era to blossom, no matter the amount of duress.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 24, Chargers 21.

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Raiders taking pride in a new, cleaner image

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The Raiders have an image, and they know it. To be honest, they cultivated it for a long time, and successfully.

But as a new team prepares to move to a new city in a few years, they want to make sure the people of Las Vegas know they aren’t some marauding band of felons, descending upon their city.

As noted by Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Raiders have the longest streak in the NFL of not having a player arrested (going back to 2014).

And coupled with the programs they run for players throughout the year, they are taking pride in being something other than what they were perceived to be for years.

“The people that know the Raiders in Las Vegas, they know the Oakland Raiders, the Los Angeles Raiders, through parents, uncles and aunts,” Raiders director of player engagement Lamonte Winston said. “There was a certain persona. Well, that’s totally changed. . . . These are the new Raiders where we have educational platforms, where our guys are going back to school, where our guys are establishing businesses. We want young people in Las Vegas, student-athletes, to know that character counts with us. It really is important to us.

“Before we put the pads on and start knocking heads, (for) the men who put on those helmets, character counts. Professionalism counts. Academics count. Respect counts. That’s what we want to bring to the community.”

At the moment, it’s all on the upswing for the Raiders, with an ascending team on the field, full of likable stars who seem just plain nice. That’s not always what the Raiders have sold, but this seems to work for them now.

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Cam Jordan: Saints are ready to win Super Bowl now

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Saints quarterback Drew Brees raised eyebrows when he told PFT Live in March that his team is “very close” to getting back to the Super Bowl. One of his teammates has now taken the next step.

“We’re building a team to win a Super Bowl,” defensive end Cam Jordan tells Greg Bishop of SI.com, who guest-wrote Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column this week. “We’re not building for the future. It’s hard not to believe in our team. We’re ready to win it now.”

So how much of that is the glass-half-full optimism/delusion that litters the league in June, and how much of it is real? The Saints have put together three straight 7-9 seasons despite having an abysmal defense. If the defense improves a little, they get to the playoffs. If the defense improves a lot, they’ll be partying like it’s 2009, with the kind of record that forces the road to Minnesota through Louisiana.

The team continues to be led by a 38-year-old quarterback whose teammates still believe in him. Zealously.

“Is there a better quarterback?” Jordan said regarding Brees. “You tell me how many 5,000-yard seasons have been produced in NFL history.”

There have been nine, in the 98-year history of the league. Brees has five of them. Every other quarterback who ever has played the game combined has four.

The Saints also have Adrian Peterson, a potential secret weapon that the team hasn’t been trying very hard to keep secret. Multiple players have praised his lingering abilities. If, when paired with Brees, Peterson can perform like he has throughout his career when healthy, many who should have seen it coming will be saying “we should have seen it coming.”

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NFL uses eye-tracking technology to improve game presentation

The NFL has decided to take steps aimed at improving the TV presentation of its games, with specific focus on pace. To do that, the league actually went to the homes of fans to “replicat[e] the game experience.”

That’s what NFL COO Tod Leiweke told the second annual Geek Wire Sports Tech Conference at CenturyLink Field, via Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.

“We’re really starting to study how people are watching games,’’ Leiweke said. “And we’re doing it in really, really interesting ways.’’

Among other things, the league is using eye-tracking technology in fan homes to monitor the things they follow during the games, along with what they do during commercial breaks. The study has contributed to a decision to reduce the total number of commercial breaks from five per quarter to four.

“They want a pace of play that doesn’t involve us chopping things up,’’ Leiweke said. “[Y]ou’re going to see, next [season] really working hard to tighten up that game presentation and present the game with more of that pace.’’

It’s all part of an effort to deal with any ever-changing present that continues to raise questions about the future, given the explosion of options that consumers now have when it comes to the many different ways to spend their time — considerably more than the days when the options were to watch one of three channels on TV, read a book or a magazine, or stare off into space like David Puddy.

“Anyone who thinks they know exactly what’s going to happen is not telling you the truth,’’ Leiweke said. “Because it’s very, very hard to tell, in this rapidly changing world, what this is all going to look like in 2025.’’

It’s very, very to tell what it’s all going to look like in 2017. For those who watch NFL games, it’s apparently going to start looking a lot different.

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Report: Dorsey decision fueled by concerns over communication, management style

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Typically, the reasons for the firing of a G.M. are clear, either because the team has stunk or the organization has clumsily leaked the reasons in advance of the move. In Kansas City, it’s still not clear why the General Manager of a team that has made it to the playoffs three times in four years was dumped on the same day the head coach was extended.

According to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star, concerns about communication and management styles contributed at least in part to the seemingly abrupt decision to part ways with G.M. John Dorsey.

John does stuff and doesn’t tell people why,” an unnamed source told Paylor regarding the decision to move on from a pair of executives, Trip MacCracken and Will Lewis, without much internal explanation. Another unnamed source told Paylor that Dorsey’s management style “could wear on people.”

“He’s not a big disciplinarian or big on chain of command, so people did what they wanted,” an unnamed source told Paylor.

“It’s more about his management skills,” another unnamed source told Paylor.

It’s unclear what was done to remedy the situation before taking the drastic step of firing a G.M. who had been getting the job done, or whether Dorsey had been put on notice of his deficiencies before termination became the right move for the Chiefs. The circumstances invite speculation that coach Andy Reid, who received an extension on the same day Dorsey got a pink slip, at a minimum approved of the move and at maximum wanted it. It’s also possible, however, that owner Clark Hunt simultaneously evaluated both men and decided that one should get extra additional years with the team and the other should get none.

Regardless, the termination happened so swiftly and surprisingly to people outside and inside the organization that it’s easy to wonder whether a man now accused of having a subpar management style was also the victim of substandard management practices.

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Vacation (not really) starts tomorrow

It’s vacation time here at PFT. Which means, basically, nothing.

The work never stops because the news never stops and, frankly, none of this is really work. So as I embark on a four-week mandatory vacation (that sounds so much better than “suspension”) from PFT Live, a flood of new stories will continue to be posted here every day at PFT, and new audio/video content will continue to appear on a daily basis, even if PFT Live will be on hiatus from NBCSN (thanks, Tour de France) and replacements will be handling the weekday radio show on NBC Sports Radio.

On most of the weekdays over the next four weeks I’ll be taping a podcast that will replace the daily PFT Live podcasts. The podcasts will be available on Apple Podcasts, audioBoom, and wherever else you get the PFT Live podcast.

So, basically, whether you’re working or on vacation we’re going nowhere. Which means we hope you’ll continue to park right here, multiple times per day every day.

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Should NFL hold its draft before free agency?

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The question was posed during Thursday night’s NBA draft in the form of a Twitter poll, and NFL fans who are typically reluctant to change embraced the idea by a 12-point margin: Hold the NFL draft before NFL free agency.

Basketball and hockey both do it. Perhaps the NFL should, too.

For veteran players, the knee-jerk reaction would be that they don’t want their looming paydays to be usurped by younger and cheaper draft picks, as teams fill needs by adding rookies in lieu of paying veterans. But what about the teams that don’t get what they want or need in the draft? At that point, a premium could be paid to add a talented veteran free agent because there’s no “screw it we’ll just draft someone” fallback.

One practical impediment to what would be a dramatic change to the offseason calendar comes from the intense time and effort devoted to the draft from the moment football season ends. With the Scouting Combine and Pro Days and team visits and private workouts, the draft couldn’t be moved up by very much if at all, thereby delaying free agency into April, and perhaps May. With offseason programs opening in April, that’s hardly ideal.

So while it’s fun to think about teams first drafting players and then signing veterans, the NFL isn’t likely to change its approach any time soon. Unless the NFL decides that there’s plenty of money to be made by turning the offseason on its head.

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Mark Cuban hopes to emulate Jerry Jones

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Two of the highest-profile American sports owners run their teams in Texas, where everything that’s bigger includes the egos of business moguls. But there seems to be no negativity between Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Cuban recently expressed excitement and praise for Jones, as he prepares to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Hopefully I emulate all this,” Cuban said, “Jerry had two goals: One, to be successful in business and he knew he had to sell, and two, to win. And when you’re trying to be successful usually someone’s not going to take kindly to the way you do it. Jerry’s always been a great salesperson and he set the example if you want to be successful it doesn’t hurt to eat, sleep and breathe your company. He’s done that and he does that to this day.”

That’s significant, given Cuban’s failed effort to back the long-dead UFL and his “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered” forecast for the grab-every-dollar NFL. But despite the flaws of pro football, Jones has been a huge part of what has made it continuously greater and greater since he bought the Cowboys in 1989. Jerry’s passion to make his franchise a success forced recalcitrant old-school owners to buy in, despite their desire to not fix things they deemed to be unbroken.

Even if something is working well, it can always be made to work better. Jones used business acumen to make that happen. Along the way he won three championships. Which is more than most owners can say, in any sport.

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Dede Westbrook has clear goals to achieve “at the beginning of the season”

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While he stopped short of reprising the Randy Moss vow to “rip up” the NFL, fellow Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook seems to have a plan for his rookie year. And he apparently plans to put it in motion quickly.

“[W]e all know what I’m capable of,” Westbrook said at an autograph session in Oklahoma, via Kendrick Marshall of the Tulsa World. “Of course, the expectations are high for me. I set goals for myself that I want to obtain at the beginning of the season.”

Drafted in round four despite off-field issues and a crowded Jacksonville depth chart, Westbrook quickly was compared to controversial 2016 Chiefs rookie Tyreek Hill when the Jaguars justified the move.

“[W]hatever role they want me to play,” Westbrook said Saturday. He could be playing multiple roles, given his skills from scrimmage and in the return game. Overall, however, Westbrook realizes the transition from college to the NFL won’t be easy.

“The fact that you have to go out and practice hard each and every day — the playbook is huge,” Westbrook said. “It isn’t like college anymore, where pretty much everything is guaranteed as far as a scholarship goes. Regardless if you’re drafted or not, in the NFL you can get cut.”

That’s a very accurate observation, especially with 90-man rosters that eventually will shrink to 53. But Westbrook, if he stays out of trouble, could end up being a big part of a turnaround in Jacksonville that many have believed has been due for the past few years. Getting key contributors in the middle rounds of the draft will be one of the ingredients in building the roster of a contender, and if Westbrook reaches the goals he has for the early part of the season maybe this year will be the year the Jaguars finally match their performance to their potential.

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Terrelle Pryor working out with Antonio Brown

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Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor is still relatively new to wide receiver and his preparation for his first season at the position in Washington includes work with one of the best wideouts in the league.

Pryor posted video and pictures on social media of workouts with Steelers star Antonio Brown in recent days. Pryor spoke earlier in the offseason about plans to work with Randy Moss and Michael Irvin as well and the Redskins free agent pickup said this spring that he knows he still has a lot to learn after playing quarterback for the majority of his career.

“The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it,” Pryor said, via John Keim of ESPN.com. “They always want to learn. I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there. I’m always pinpoint in meetings, always answering questions. I jump on a question before anyone else can. I enjoy it. Once you stop learning and think you’ve got it, that’s when you lose. I never want to get to that point. I’m always curious, how to get better and how to be a dominant player and how to make people look at me and say, ‘I want to be like that.’ That’s what drives me.”

Brown, Moss and Irvin are pretty good people to go to for pointers about how to succeed as a receiver in the NFL and continued growth from Pryor will make his new team very happy he’s part of the offense in 2017.

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Aaron Rodgers hires CAA to handle off-field interests

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has made plenty of money on the field but apparently not as much as he’d like to make away from it, has made a change in his representation for the purposes of capitalizing on his name and image.

Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports that Rodgers has parted ways with Excel Sports Management, and he has hired CAA.

“Aaron has a clear vision for growing his brand and business off the field,” Michael Levine of CAA Sports told Mullen.

Making the move far more intriguing is the fact that CAA has become one of the largest and most successful agencies for on-field work, particularly when it comes to quarterbacks. So while Rodgers continues to be represented by David Dunn of Athletes First when it comes to Rodgers’ contract, it’s hard not to wonder whether the folks at CAA will be looking for ways to leverage the marketing relationship with Rodgers into a piece of his next big contract — especially since many believe he’s already overdue to receive one.

That said, Rodgers praised Dunn earlier this month on the issue of Rodgers’ four-year-old deal, which tied him to the Packers for three more seasons.

I have a fantastic agent, he does a great job,” Rodgers said. “He worries about that stuff. When it comes to setting the market values, I let that stuff take care of itself. I know my value in this league, and I know the team appreciates me. I’m going to continue to make myself an indispensable part of this roster. When you do that, when your time comes up to get a contract, you usually get a contract extension.”

He’s right, but the problem is that Rodgers’ current deal pushed that time too far into the future, instead of ensuring that he’d be back at the trough for a new contract while on the right side of 35, or that his compensation in the out years of a seven-year commitment would be tied to the ongoing spikes in the salary cap.

Rodgers has had a decent amount of off-field visibility during his career, fueled largely by his relationship with the State Farm insurance company. But he hasn’t parlayed his football success into the same profile that others have enjoyed, like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He arguably hasn’t made as much money as he could have or should have playing football, either. As CAA works to improve the former, it’s fair to wonder whether they’ll be hoping for a chance to enhance the latter, too.

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Dak Prescott uses celebrity to give back

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Dak Prescott was the third quarterback on the team’s depth chart this time last year. The Cowboys expected Prescott, a fourth-round pick in 2016, to spend the season behind Tony Romo and Kellen Moore, watching, waiting and learning.

Fate happened, and Prescott became an unexpected star as a rookie. That’s the reason Prescott drew an estimated 3,000 kids to his three camps over the past week — two in Mississippi and one in North Texas.

As a successful quarterback of the Cowboys, Prescott has become a celebrity. Everyone wants to be associated with him.

Prescott called on Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Charles Haley and several current Cowboys, including Cole Beasley, to help with his camp Sunday, which drew more than 900 kids.

“I didn’t think it would be within a year,” Prescott said, via Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News. “But I’ve also envisioned being able to do something like this [with football camps in his name]. It’s been an amazing week.”

Prescott said he has other commitments before the Cowboys depart for training camp July 22, but he also plans on enjoying some off time.

“Yeah, just that, doing them all, working out, doing some other obligations that I’ve already planned and then enjoying myself,” Prescott said. “So, going out and go to a beach somewhere, hang out with the time I need. But also getting ready for football at the same time.”

Prescott has earned some time off, but it’s a safe bet, working out will remain the priority for him the next four weeks.

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Tim Tebow gets a promotion from the Mets

AP

Tim Tebow’s baseball career has taken another step.

According to Teddy Kulmala of The State newspaper, the former NFL quarterback has been promoted a level in the Mets organization.

Tebow has been playing in low-A Columbia, S.C., and is being bumped up to the Class A-Advanced St. Lucie Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla. after Sunday’s game.

“Tim brought an incredible amount of experience and leadership to our clubhouse,” Fireflies president John Katz said. “His contributions, both on the field and in our community, have made a tremendous impact on our team, the City of Columbia and the entire South Atlantic League. We wish Tim the best as he continues his journey to Citi Field.”

While progress is progress, Tebow isn’t exactly killing the ball. He’s hitting .222 with three home runs in 63 games, with 23 RBI.

Then again, it’s the Mets.

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Cam Newton: A Super Bowl ring is the one thing missing from my life

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Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is motivated by just one thing.

A Super Bowl ring, Newton told high school players at a 7-on-7 tournament he hosted, is what drives him, and the only thing he’s seeking in life.

“I’m looking at my life right now and I’m saying, ‘I’m missing one thing: I want a Super Bowl,’” Newton said, via the Charlotte Observer. “Yeah, but it’s really certain things that you have to really fine-tune and say, ‘Am I deserving to be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback? How can I push myself to be a better me?’”

Newton told the young players that when he was their age, he decided success at the highest level was his only option.

“The only way I put myself in this situation to be successful was I didn’t have no plan B,” Newton said. “I told myself, at the end of the day, I’m gonna be a football player and a football player only. And a lot of guys get it misconstrued because you’re setting yourself up for failure; that’s what some people think. But in myself I was thinking, ‘I ain’t got no other alternative. Either I’m gonna dominate this man in front of me or not.’”

Newton has done plenty in football since he told himself he had no plan B: He won a Heisman Trophy and a national championship in college, and he has an MVP award in the NFL. Now he just needs that ring.

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A year later, no clarity on Peyton Manning’s next move

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The annual Manning Passing Academy has generated plenty of sound bites and speculation regarding the status of retired quarterback Peyton Manning. It started with family patriarch Archie spilling the beans about text messages exchanged by Peyton and Dolphins coach Adam Gase last December, after Ryan Tannehill injured his knee. And it has continued with the perpetual question of what Peyton will do now that he’s done playing.

“It’s definitely important for me to stay close to the game and connected to it in different ways,” Peyton Manning said, via Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “If I took a job [in the NFL] I’m sure you’d probably hear about it. I doubt it would be kept quiet.”

But for his recent hiring as as strategic advisor to Riddell (which wasn’t kept quiet because the company issued a press release), quiet continues to be the key word with Peyton, as he spends time with family, pitches an occasional product, and otherwise enjoys life after having so much of his existence consumed by football. The fact that Peyton was fully and completely consumed by the game has caused some who know him to wonder whether he’ll ever return to the full-time grind, given his propensity to take over anything and everything about a football team — and the physical and mental burden that goes along with it.

Consider this observation from former Colts punter Pat McAfee during his visit last week to PFT Live:  “[I]f [Peyton] wanted practice to restart, if he didn’t like something that was going [on], practice would restart. If he wanted a guy to make the team, that guy made the team. He kicked [receiver] Austin Collie off the field in the middle of a game before because Austin attempted to catch [the ball] with one hand. . . .

“Peyton ran the show in Indianapolis. Everything about it. He wanted a curfew at the Super Bowl, [G.M.] Bill Polian didn’t. There was a curfew. Peyton Manning just ran everything, that’s just how it went.”

And that’s likely how it would go if Peyton Manning became a G.M. or an executive with a team. It’s his nature, and it’s one of the reasons he’ll succeed at whatever he chooses to do.

The prevailing view is that he’ll wait for a chance to join an ownership group, likely as the Bon-Jovi-in-Buffalo-style front man and not as the person who owns a controlling interest in the team. That said, the money interests that put him that position need to know he’ll essentially be controlling the team.

Fear of failure could be a factor in his decision-making process, which could cause him to be even more careful about picking the right spot to return. Or maybe he’ll be happy remaining close enough to the game to have influence and generate real revenue without sticking his hand back into the flame.

Regardless, he’s earned the right to take his time and to pick his future role(s), whatever they may be. Whatever they end up being, the game will likely be better off for it.

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Louis Riddick: I haven’t heard from Chiefs about G.M. opening

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Sunday morning brought a report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media that the Chiefs have reached out to ESPN analyst Louis Riddick about setting up an interview for the General Manager vacancy they created by dismissing John Dorsey last week.

That report has been disputed by someone very close to the situation. That would be Riddick himself, who took to social media on Sunday to say that word of the Chiefs’ interest has not been conveyed to him.

That doesn’t mean that the Chiefs won’t reach out to Riddick at some point, but, for now, it seems that all is quiet on that front as the Chiefs look for Dorsey’s replacement.

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