All The Johnny Manziel Subterfuge

A few days ago I posed the question: If you change your mock draft for the 10th time, what’s the difference between that and talking in circles?? Pundit after pundit for weeks explained why they thought Manziel would fall in the draft. Well the Cleveland Browns made him a late first round pick and energized the franchise and fan-base.

manzielAfter months of speculation on where he’ll slip in the draft a funny thing happened. When you asked GMs what they thought about him, reviews were mixed. Yet when you asked defensive players who they least wanted to face of the incoming quarterbacks, Manziel topped that list by far. How much of it was smokescreen to get Johnny to fall to them at a specific draft position??

Former GM Charlie Casserly was his most vocal critic citing his being the most overrated player in the draft. This from a guy that drafted Heath Shuler & David Carr?? To quote Bill Belichick “When has Charlie Casserly been right?”

The consensus has always been to draft a 6’3 strong armed pocket passer. Yet the NFL is evolving. Didn’t we just watch a small mobile QB beat the pocket passer in Super Bowl XLVIII a few months back?? Colin Kaepernick came within a few plays of winning the ultimate game the year before that. There is more than one way to play the position and a new profile of how the position looks. You can offset a smaller quarterback with roll-outs, waggles, and spread formations. Drew Brees has been carving up the record books lately at 6’0, so what is everyone talking about??

More important…who cares??

The Browns needed Johnny Manziel as much as he needed them. He will have a chip on his shoulder from this entire draft ordeal and want to prove a point. Its the immeasurable qualities like the will to win, and the ability to inspire teammates that you can’t get from combines and pro days. Watching his best college performances against teams that were thought to be better than his shows fight. He’ll have plenty of those days with the Browns looking up to the AFC North and most teams from a talent standpoint. He’s wired psychologically to take that on. The Heath Shulers, David Carrs, Blaine Gabberts of the world were not.

Speaking of free agents Cleveland might attract....LeBron James sporting a Manziel jersey traveling with the Miami Heat.

Speaking of free agents Cleveland might attract….LeBron James sporting a Manziel jersey traveling with the Miami Heat.

Now the Browns can draw more attention from the upper echelon of free agents that will be available before the season begins. We still have a few rounds of the draft to go, but look for the Browns to make a move at receiver with the pending suspension of wideout Josh Gordon.

The Cleveland Browns relevancy begins now.  Just call him Johnny Cleveland!

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Bring back The ProCap – Concussions In The NFL

As the NFL has to come to grips with paying true benefits and restitution to former players, they have to deal with the protection of the present day player. As the NFL has kept the contract for NFL helmets with Riddell, what ever happened to the ProCap that gave players additional helmet padding??

Mark Kelso was the first to sport a ProCap back in 1989.

Mark Kelso was the first to sport a ProCap back in 1989.

Who remembers the helmet of Buffalo Bill Mark Kelso and San Francisco 49ers T Steve Wallace?? Back in the 1980’s there were more players who wore helmets manufactured by Bike. A few NFL players were wearing them. Most notably Ronnie Lott in San Francisco, then Wilber Mashall and Otis Wilson in Chicago.

Yet the long standing relationship with Riddell effectively led to an exclusive contract which ended Bike helmets in the pros. Yet there were several manufacturers like Schutt who have come onto the scene touting advancements in helmet manufacturing in recent years.

Steve Wallace wore the ProCap while battling on the line of scrimmage.

Steve Wallace wore the ProCap while battling on the line of scrimmage.

Now we don’t have any statistics regarding concussions between both manufacturers. But when Mark Kelso donned a ProCap after his 4th career concussion in 1989, he only missed 2 games from 1990 -1993. Somewhere during that time Steve Wallace started to wear his. What happened to these during this time of heightened concussion awareness?? Why isn’t every player wearing one??

With all the talk on heightened awareness regarding CTE, concussion protocol, and rule changes: What about extended use of the ProCap??

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AFC Arms Race: Denver Broncos v New England Patriots

The NFL has become corporate in their thinking but have we had two off-seasons where the lead teams in a conference have gone after each other like this?? First, we had Seattle and San Francisco try to one up each other as they fortified their teams throughout the preseason last year. Now this year in the AFC, the Patriots and Broncos have completely raised the bar through the early free agent signing period.

Talib joined the Broncos after signing for $57 million.

Talib joined the Broncos after signing for $57 million.

The Broncos struck first when they snatched Pro Bowl corner Aquib Talib who starred last year for the Patriots. Ironically it was Bill Belichick who complained Denver intentionally tried to take him out of last year’s AFC Championship Game. Now they sign him for $57 million?? Go with that where you will but then they signed DE/LB DeMarcus Ware to fortify the pass rush.

If Ware can show half the skill from his 2008-2010 years, the Broncos could have the league's best pass rush.

If Ware can show half the skill from his 2008-2010 years, the Broncos could have the league’s best pass rush.

No question the Broncos jumped to the early lead in the AFC arms race. Couple these signings with the return and motivation of All Pro Von Miller and this isn’t the defense they sent to Super Bowl XLVIII in New York. The most important factor is Miller is a left side rusher where Ware comes in from the blindside. Neither has to learn to rush from a different stance than they’re used to. With a potent rush, Talib will be able to take away the opponents best receiver.

On the east coast the Patriots recovered from the loss of Talib with the signing of Darelle Revis. Why didn’t they just keep Talib?? Well they also struck gold with the signing of former Seahawk CB Brandon Browner. Knowing they eventually will have to stop the Broncos potent offense, these two signings go a long way in achieving that. Now that WR Eric Decker has signed with the Jets this will be easier to accomplish.

The key for Denver could be signing pro bowl safety TJ Ward.

The key for Denver could be signing pro bowl safety TJ Ward.

Up until these signings it seemed the Broncos had the leg up on their AFC counterparts. The Patriots are on the verge of signing wideout Brandon Lafell formerly of Carolina. The glaring weakness that the Patriots were forced to face in the AFC Championship Game is they need bigger receivers. If it weren’t for cap penalties the right thing to do is cut Amendola and sign another big receiver. Former Titan Kenny Britt is scheduled to visit New England today.

Now that RB Knowshon Moreno isn’t really getting the free agency attention he sought, he may come back into the fold. The one signing that has gone under the radar is Denver signing former Cleveland Brown SS TJ Ward. He can bring the thunder in the secondary and create a more aggressive culture within the defense.

The 6'4 Browner matches  well with Denver's big receivers.

The 6’4 Browner matches well with Denver’s big receivers.

We are being flashed back to the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s. These two know they are competing with each other while being head and shoulders above everyone else in the conference. The Bengals haven’t proved they can win the big game. Indy is coming on but might be a year away. Pittsburgh and Baltimore have fallen a few steps beneath these two and every move is to one up the other.

Now we look toward the draft to see where these two will go. Each lost a young linebacker as former Patriot Brandon Spikes signed with Buffalo. Wesley Woodyard signed with Tennessee. Time to watch who the Patriots get for Tom Brady the rest of this offseason. They need some size at receiver. As for Denver, they filled all of their defensive weaknesses. Barring injury this should be a better Bronco team than last year’s Super Bowl unit. However with one or two more moves there will be a Patriot team waiting for them in the AFC Championship Game.

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Rashard Mendenhall Retires

Now when most heard the news of Rashard Mendenhall’s retirement earlier today, many compared him to Ricky Williams for stepping away at only 26. Yet the player that came to The Chancellor’s mind was former RB Robert Smith who retired from the Minnesota Vikings after 2000 at the age of 28.

Retired at 26.

Retired at 26.

Talk radio exploded with “How could he walk away from millions of dollars?” Yet these same pundits would have barbecued him had he been one of those that hung on past his prime just for a check. Good morning my nation of cynics.

His reasons for retirement only need to satisfy him. It reminds me of Robert Smith’s retirement because he wanted to pursue other interests when he could stay a few more years. Citing his wish to walk away from the game for the sake of his future health is noble. After all hasn’t concussion and post career health been the major topic the last few NFL off-seasons??

The cynical fan whines and pines for players of a woe be gone era where they played for the love of the game. Yet can’t understand the player who is leaving the game because has waned. Don’t worry Mendenhall your decision is respected here and we wish you well with future writing endeavors and whatever you decide to do in life. There is a lot of life left after 26. Enjoy it.

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Cowboys Cut DeMarcus Ware

In a move we knew was going to happen, the Dallas Cowboys cut ties with DeMarcus Ware. His diminishing skills and injuries were mounting over the last two seasons. Of his 6 sacks, 4 came against the Kansas City Chiefs then the St Louis Rams in weeks 3 and 4. No way you can bring a guy back with a $16 million cap hit when he made only 2 sacks in the final 12 games. Cowboy fans can’t help but feel cheated.

One of the best pass rushers in the history of the Dallas Cowboys

One of the best pass rushers in the history of the Dallas Cowboys

Ware was everything Bill Parcells envisioned when he drafted him out of Troy. Why didn’t the Cowboys do everything to team him with another pass rusher?? No Cowboy fans, I’m not talking of Jason Hatcher or Anthony Spencer. I’m talking a bonafide blue chip player. Imagine Mario Williams, Julius Peppers or Jared Allen across from him with all that noise down in Dallas. Not only did he have 7 straight double digit sack seasons, he had one with 20 (2008) and 19.5 (2011).

Now we have to point to Jerry Jones again. He believed the hype that his team was stocked with blue chip talent. Think of all the tandems in NFL history: Dexter Manley and Charles Mann, Richard Dent & Dan Hampton, Tony Tolbert & Charles Haley, Cornelius Bennett & Bruce Smith, Kevin Greene & Greg Lloyd, then Neil Smith & the late Derrick Thomas, or Clyde Simmons & the late Reggie White. Not once did the Cowboys make a move that could have masked several defensive deficiencies. Or wreaked havoc on opposing offenses and rank near the top in sacks.

The Dallas Cowboys did DeMarcus Ware two disservices. They should have teamed him with another pass rusher to better his chances of taking the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. Then they should have traded him to a team with a chance to win it all sometime in 2012 as well. Both parties would have benefited from such a move. Several Jerry Jones blunders later, Ware has to sell his wares around the NFL. What does he have left in the tank?? As a designated pass rusher he will have some serious suitors. What would happen if he took a small contract for a chance to win it all with Seattle, New England, or go to Denver to play across from a rejuvenated Von Miller?? Ware’s career isn’t over, his tenure in Dallas is left unfulfilled.

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Salary Cap: When Do You Say When??

Let’s see if we have this right…. All Pro Tight End Jimmy Graham is up for free agency and if he’s franchised, he wants the money of a wideout, not that of the position he plays. Where does that logic come from?? Welcome to the lunacy that can be NFL free agency. For a team that has just $5.1 million of cap space, are the New Orleans Saints about to overpay for Jimmy Graham??

Graham looks to hold the Saints hostage with free agency looming.

Graham looks to hold the Saints hostage with free agency looming.

Now that the Saints are coming off their first season with Rob Ryan as Defensive Coordinator, they made it to 4th in total defense and 14th against the run. Yet the Saints let go of longtime defensive leader Jonathan Vilma and dangle starters Will Smith, CB Jabari Greer, and both Safeties Roman Harper, and Malcolm Jenkins for other teams to sign.

All this for a Tight End that disappeared in 2 games against Seattle last year?? He had a combined 5 catches for 49 yards. The Panthers and 49ers had success against Graham also. The Saints will have to rebuild their defense instead of gaining strength from the continuity they established last year.

That’s too much money for a player that can be taken out of the game by a stout defense.

Sure he caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards and 16TDs but now they won’t have money to field a legitimate defense. At the top of the conference sit the best defenses since the early 2000’s. So how is a Tight End worth $40 million, who is taken out of the game by tough defenses going to improve the Saints??

Stay tuned…

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