LOS ANGELES — Last week in the NFL was one everyone would like to forget. Unless, of course, you’re one of the handful of teams who improved to 2-0 and thus greatly increased your chance of eventually advancing to the playoffs. If you’re winless as we enter Week 3, then what a pity because in the last five seasons just one team – the 2013 Panthers – has advanced to the tournament after beginning the year as such (you’ll probably read that again soon). If the season ended today, who would be your MVP? Good question, glad I asked it. Peyton Manning? C.J. Spiller? Andy Dalton? J.J. Watt? What about Coach of the Year? Bill O’Brien? Bruce Arians? Ah yes, that’s why they play a full 16 games in the National. Football. League.
Let’s find out who’s the man, shall we?
32.) New York Giants (2014 record: 0-2; last week: 31) — It’s a little too early to determine the top college prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft, but I hope he’ll enjoy living in Manhattan because it’s going to be that kinda year for the G-Men.
31.) Oakland Raiders (0-2; 29) — I’ll let future hall of famer Charles Woodson handle this one: “We’re not very good … We suck. I am embarrassed.” OK, then.
30.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2; 30) — According to ESPN’s made up QBR that puts a quantitive score on how well an NFL quarterback performs, Chad Henne got a 4.1 this week. Four-point-one. If you’re scoring at home. We are officially on Blake Bortles watch.
29.) St. Louis Rams (1-1; 32) — Get blasted at home to the Vikings and win on the road against the Bucs; I’m certainly not going to try and figure out this team just two weeks in, but anything’s possible at this point. I’m ready for anything.
28.) Washington Redskins (1-1; 26) — Look, I love Robert as much as anyone. We are forever linked in basic cable television lore but his time as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins is over. This is Kirk Cousins’ team.
27.) Dallas Cowboys (1-1; 27) — It’s amazing what happens when the Cowboys stick to running the football and don’t let Tony Romo freelance behind the line of scrimmage to basically get himself beat to a pulp. What team shows up this week, however, is up in the air.
26.) Kansas City Chiefs (0-2; 24) — If Jamaal Charles is out for a considerable amount of time this team is in trouble, especially after its best defensive player tore his achilles.
25.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2; 23) — First you lose to Derek Anderson, then you lose to Austin Davis. Oh, and both games were at home. And you’re supposed to be a playoff team. Something ain’t right down in Tampa Bay.
24.) Cleveland Browns (1-1; 28) — Did anyone give the Browns any kind of chance to beat the Saints last weekend? Nope. Turns out these aren’t your brother’s Browns. Tough. Hard-nosed. Brian Hoyer has moxie. Johnny sure looked good those two snaps, right?
23.) Tennessee Titans (1-1; 16) — How do you go from lambasting a playoff team on the road to getting thrashed at home by an inept pretender? Jake Locker looked great and then horrid. Can’t figure out this Titans squad so far.
22.) Minnesota Vikings (1-1; 14) — Umm, yeah, I don’t know what’s going on there as much as you do but one thing is for certain after the Vikings drubbing at the hand of New England last week: Teddy Bridgewater’s time is coming. Soon.
21.) New York Jets (1-1; 19) — Only the Jets could lose because their offensive coordinator called a time out just a split second before their second-year quarterback who may or may not be any good throws the greatest pass of his short NFL career to a young receiver who makes a leaping grab in the end zone to tie the game but it didn’t count and they go on to lose because of it.
20.) Houston Texans (2-0; 20) — Houston has beat the Redskins and Raiders, so not exactly world beaters, but starting the year 2-0 is impressive and J.J. Watt is on a mission to take over the world. I’m afraid just typing his name.
19.) Baltimore Ravens (1-1; 22) — Disaster week in Baltimore last week and considering what was swirling around that football team, what they were able to do on a short week against a good Steelers team; impressive to say the least.
18.) Atlanta Falcons (1-1; 13) — So the Falcons, after showing us their 2012 selves in Week 1, went and showed us their 2013 edition in Week 2. I’m not riding this roller coaster this season. Pick one and be done with it!
17.) Miami Dolphins (1-1; 9) — I was ready to be a believer in the Dolphins, I really was. But they got dominated by the Bills, even more so after Knowshon Moreno went out with an elbow injury.
16.) Detroit Lions (1-1; 12) — Everyone was saying, myself included, that the Lions needed to show us they could beat a tough team on the road before we would start taking them seriously; and we wait another week.
15.) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1; 4) — It was pretty shocking this team let Cleveland get back in the game in Week 1 and then got completely outclassed last Thursday night against a Ravens team fighting controversy.
14.) Buffalo Bills (2-0; 25) — Buffalo has been the most surprisingly impressive team this far, defeating good teams on the road and at home, showing a knack for the big play and coming up with the defense when needed. Gotta see it consistently before I believe though.
13.) Chicago Bears (1-1; 21) — So the Bears, in eight quarters of football this season, have laid an absolute egg in six of them, and absolutely dominant in two. Lucky for them it’s the last two that’s been the most dominant.
12.) Arizona Cardinals (2-0; 18) — Narrowly edging the Chargers at home is sort of impressive, escaping against the Giants is not whatsoever. Not sure what to make of this team so far, but it’s nice that Larry Fitzgerald was targeted 500 times. Quiet his dad for a week.
11.) Indianapolis Colts (0-2; 6) — Why Chuck Pagano doesn’t just turn Andrew Luck loose is beyond me and probably most every Colts fan. But hey, at least Trent Richardson looked like a real life human functioning running back this week, right?
10.) New Orleans Saints (0-2; 7) — The Saints are a team with Super Bowl aspirations, and I know many out there picked them to be as such, but this stat is a very real one: only one team in the last 5 seasons has started the year 0-2 and made the playoffs.
9.) Philadelphia Eagles (2-0; 11) — The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to be trailing by 14-or-more points in their first two games and come back to win them both. Soooo maybe they should work on their starts, ya think?
8.) Green Bay Packers (1-1; 8) — How is it possible that Jordy Nelson doesn’t have the respect of defensive coordinators across the league just yet? All he goes out and does is dominate week-in and week-out. Great fortitude to bounce back after looking like a mess in falling behind 18 against the Jets.
7.) New England Patriots (1-1; 10) — Tom Brady is still pissed the offense isn’t clicking like it should but be honest, I wasn’t the only one panicking after the Vikings went up 7-0 Sunday very easily. What followed was the defensive performance we were all expecting from the Patriots.
6.) San Francisco 49ers (1-1; 3) — Talk about a tale of two halves in the opening game at Levi’s Stadium. Colin Kaepernick shows flashes of being one of the best players in the league, then he slips back down to looking like someone still struggling to pick it all up.
5.) San Diego Chargers (1-1; 15) — Boy, the Super Chargers sure showed the rest of the league something last Sunday, huh? Did they expose the Seahawks? I won’t go that far, but San Diego will be there come season’s end.
4.) Carolina Panthers (2-0; 17) — The Panthers win on the road in Week 1 without their starting quarterback and then do it again in Week 2 against one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL without their best defensive player.
3.) Seattle Seahawks (1-1; 1) — Seattle isn’t going undefeated and the big story is how all-world mouth team defensive back Richard Sherman got “exposed.” Well, he’s still wearing the ring so let’s all just calm down about that for a week or two.
2.) Cincinnati Bengals (2-0; 5) — The Bengals have been the most consistently balanced and impressive team in the league through the first two weeks. Let’s see it continue or maybe even in January.
1.) Denver Broncos (2-0; 2) — Peyton Manning threw three more TD passes, blah, blah, blah. Wake me when something legitimate happens in Denver.
LOS ANGELES — Unless you’re still in the theater watching Transformers 4 because that movie is 1800 hours long, or worse yet got traded by the Red Sox, you’re aware that NFL Training Camps started last weekend across the league in Cortland, New York, Oxnard, California and everywhere in between. Rookies are learning playbooks and carrying pads, while veterans are sharpening skills and honing in on what they hope is an upcoming season filled with good health and victorious Sundays. New coaches are finally realizing their dreams of sleeping less than four hours a night and never seeing their families, and us the fans are beginning the early stages of scouting for our upcoming eight fantasy football leagues. Ah, yes, football is back and not a moment too soon. This Sunday marks the officially opening of the 2014 NFL season with the festivities at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. This year’s class is another star-studded affair with Michael Strahan and Andre Reed highlighting the honorees, and of course, the game between the Giants and Bills Sunday night kicks off football every Sunday from now until February.
So with all that in mind, here’s the latest 8 Things To Look For: NFL Preseason Week 1:
1.) Get Ready For JFFTV — If you’ve noticed a theme in your football programing in the last week, you’re not alone. The Browns haven’t got this much coverage since Jim Brown’s days and why not, between Josh Gordon and Brian Hoyer, they’re actually interesting. Though I’ll be the first to admit, a quarterback battle on a team coming off a 4-12 season isn’t exactly the most appetizing meal, but when one of those quarterbacks is Johnny Manziel all bets are off. Johnny makes headlines whenever he speaks or leaves his house. First it was saying he’s not going to change, then it was his biggest challenge is the playbook, then he threw a couple interceptions in practice, then he got spotted on his off day at a bar. He can’t win. His coach and owner have gone out of their way to praise Brian Hoyer which leads you to believe JFF will start the year holding the clipboard. But why then did the Browns draft him? There was the story about the team being shocked his partying was as ramped up as it was between draft day and camp kickoff. Do none of them have Twitter or Instagram accounts? Look, my position on the kid is well known, but I’ll be excited when actual football is actually being played and we all can judge the kid on what really counts: what goes on between the lines on game day. Until then, hope you got your popcorn ready because we’re going to have a front row seat to EVERYTHING he does for the foreseeable future.
2.) Don’t Listen To Anything Anyone Says — If you’ve heard all the player and coach interviews recently a theme has probably been observed: everyone is awesome, we are going to the Super Bowl. Brandon Marshall told Michael Irvin at Bears camp this week that Jay Cutler could win the 2014 NFL MVP. Now Irvin probably believed this because he was the one who said last year Dez Bryant would be MVP, but that aside, Marshall has seen Jay Cutler play football, right? Cutler is the man who’s thrown at least 14 interceptions in a year five times, including a league-leading 26 in 2009. I know he’s Marshall’s boy but take step back, 15. Do you trust Cutler to win a big game for you? Fourth quarter, two minutes to go, down by six? Didn’t think so. The Bears have seriously high expectations this season predicated on their explosive offense. They are a chic Super Bowl pick. I’ve heard that Las Vegas types are putting serious cashola on them as well. But it all hinges on Cutler. All of it. That should make Bears fans very nervous.
3.) Vampire Injury Biting Back — Sure, “True Blood” is going off the air soon, but vampires are still cool, right? OK, forget it … Regardless, in consecutive days the league lost running backs Vick Ballard (Colts) and Kendall Hunter (49ers) to season-ending Achilles’ and ACL tears, and Giants back David Wilson got concussed again. Texans receiver Andre Johnson strained his hamstring this week and on and on. No quarterbacks have gone down yet, thanks goodness, and while injuries are part of the game, every year a handful of stars go down and the domino effect is palpable. You hate to see anyone go down this time of year, especially, but it makes you appreciate how hard everyone works and just how precious our time in this game is.
4.) Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons — Yearly, it’s the best show on television, and “Hard Knocks” returns next week down in Flowery Branch as the Falcons will be this summer’s featured team. What’s funny is that owner Arthur Blank and head coach Mike Smith volunteered for the gig. Atlanta didn’t fall under the new league-mandated guidelines with having made the playoffs in the last two seasons, but I’m guessing Blank wanted to ramp up the team’s profile and put a little pressure on his talented group of veterans in wake of a disastrous 4-12 2013 campaign. I think this will be a fun season of “Hard Knocks.” There are players we all know and are familiar with in Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Steven Jackson, and inevitably a few with personalities we never knew existed will emerge. That’s the beauty of the show; you go in not caring and come out invested in a whole new group of guys.
5.) How Will Holdout Affect Beast Mode — Marshawn Lynch proved last week he’s not only ’bout that action, boss, but he’s also ’bout that paper, boss. The Seahawks running back phoned into NFL Network to announce his hold out and returned Thursday with little bustle. Michael Silver reported Seattle tacked on a few more Skittles onto his existing contract for this season, $1.5 million to be exact, which is always nice. And while Money Lynch was the biggest name who held out this Training Camp others such as Lions all-world DT Ndamukong Suh and Chiefs QB Alex Smith want a new deals before the season kicks of in early September. Many thought Andre Johnson was going to skip Texans training camp but he showed and promptly injured his hammy. How will surrounding contract issues affect these guys? That’s always the question when it appears their main offseason focus has been their wallet and not their body. I’m guessing it’ll be minimal but you never know.
6.) Who’s Awesome/Who’s Trash — Did you hear the one on Monday where Nick Foles is garbage because he came from a rich family and neighborhood and doesn’t scream at his teammates like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? Look, I like Buzz Bissinger as much as the next “Friday Night Lights” fan but seriously, Buzz, I think your leather pants are too tight on this one. It’s amazing to me a guy coming off one of the greatest statistical seasons in some time (8-2, 2,981 yards, 27 TD, 2 INT) could be criticized for not being a leader or having what it takes to be an elite quarterback in this league, but all it takes is a keyboard to take someone down, and that’s what Buzz did this week. This also plays into a larger preseason theme of declaring a player a superstar or on the cut list when no games have been played.
7.) Revis Island Taking Reservations for Weekend Getaways — The first English settlement of Martha’s Vineyard came in 1642 by Thomas Mayhew and since then the island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts has become a playground for the affluent. This fall, however, a new inhabitant will take over the 87.5 square mile paradise island and plant his flag: Darrelle Revis. By all accounts, the Patriots new defensive back has been terrorizing New England practices this July. He even had the gall to intercept Tom Brady not once but twice! In one day! How dare he?! Revis has proven thus far to be the real deal, which is good news for a Patriots secondary that couldn’t stop me and three friends in recent years. If he is locking down half the field this fall, coupled with a healthy Vince Wilfork and Jarod Mayo, New England will be back to being a force defensively.
8.) I Still Have No Idea Who I’m Keeping In Fantasy — I know my fantasy team is always on your mind, but it’s a serious problem I’m having right now and I know I’m not alone. Surely I can’t be the only one who is pacing like Scrooge McDuck trying to decide on two keepers among six legit possibilities, and then after having done a fantasy mock draft factoring in who I think everyone else in my league is going to keep, pacing even more because I can’t decide if I should take Dez Bryant or Brandon Marshall or Jimmy Graham or Julio Jones with the third overall pick?! Right? Bueller? OK, fine. Screw you guys. Never mind. I got this. (no, I don’t. help.)
LOS ANGELES — It was two weeks later than normal, but the 2014 NFL Draft is finally here, as the first round gets underway shortly from Radio. City. Music. Hall. in New York City. Once again, I’ll be here to document all the action in running diary style. This is probably my favorite column of the year to write and definitely the longest. Things I’m looking forward to seeing tonight: where Johnny Manziel ends up, if someone straight up tackles Roger Goodell after their name gets called, just how bad Jerry Jones screws up the Cowboys pick, how loudly Jets fans boo their own selection and of course, what these soon-to-be millionaires are wearing. Let’s get this thing started.
4:15pmPT — We’re about 45 minutes out from the official start of this show. I’m posting up today at the lovely West Los Angeles abode of Andrew Siciliano, whom you know as the host of DirecTVs Red Zone coverage on Sundays and various programs on NFL Network. Hopefully some others joins us for what should be a fantastic evening of running commentary during this 1st Round.
4:18 — Johnny Manziel with Deion Sanders just said he was “blessed.” Over/under on how many times we’re gonna hear that today? 5,793? Wish Johnny would’ve went clean shaven, but hey, it’s his world and we’re all just living in it. Ha! He tosses it back to Rich. What a natural.
4:22 — What’s up with Jadeveon Clowney signing with Puma? Were Russell Athletic and Hutch not offering enough? Did Fila want none of that?
4:30 — So a list of the guys walk out songs has been released and we’re breaking down the draftees walk out music right now, or what AS is calling it, “draft up” music. Four Drake songs, Teddy Bridgewater coming out to R. Kelly and Cyrus Kouandjio has chosen Imagine Dragons. Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Maybe that’s why Teddy is falling.
4:35 — Draftees being introduced on the stage now. Blake Bortles was just introduced. Do we have an over/under on how many times they show his girlfriend? It’ll have to break the previous record of 8,000 set by Lauren Tannehill in 2012.
4:36 — Ha Ha Clinton Dix taking the early lead for best dressed with an Alabama crimson tuxedo jacket with a bow tie. And what is this music that’s playing? Didn’t know they turned Radio City into a club. Is Manziel’s girlfriend going to be coming out with the bottle service soon? When’s the foam party start?
4:38 — Jimmy Garappolo is dressed like he’s going to be selling insurance in 3 years. Which he very well might be… Marqise Lee looks like he should be parking cars as the valet at Boa tonight. Though he looks fantastic.
4:40 — Manziel, I think, just got booed. Which is awesome. Haters gon’ hate… Jake Matthews comes out and I ask AS who’s the biggest lock in the draft for a 10-year career and without hesitation he says Matthews. Maybe Greg Robinson…. Morgan Moses looks amazing with that beard and bow tie. Rick Ross style. “He looks like he’s actually Moses.”
4:42 — the bow tie revolution is real, people. Drew Christensen, NFLN researcher would be proud his influence has been passed down to this younger generation.
4:49 — We have now been joined by our former NFLN colleague Matt Abrams, so the commentary will be top notch. Also, AS just added a “Manziel” column to TweetDeck and it’s moving so fast you can’t read it. This guy knows how to move the needle.
4:53 – Kevin Sumlin Manziel’s former college coach, is with Deion Sanders about the Texas A&M guys, who could be 3 of the top 15 picks. What a fantastic mini fro he’s rocking right now, too. “Where would you like them to go?” Deion asks “I’d like them to come back.”
4:57 — We’re debating whether or not AS is as tall as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. He said it’s close. Don’t ask how we got there.
5:00 — “this is kinda like the Hunger Games. We’re all gathered in the streets waiting for young men to be told where they will be going to relocated.”
5:01 — OK, let’s do this. Should be an exciting 1st Round. Of course, we’re watching NFL Network’s coverage of the events with Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci, Michael Irvin in a conservative suit again (wack) and Mike Mayock on the main desk. We also have ESPN on a smaller TV juut in case something different happens over there.
5:03 — our first RADIO. CITY. MUSIC. HALL of the night from Eisen. He’s gonna say this about 100 more times tonight so if you’re playing any Draft Drinking Games you’ve been warned. Mayock with the traditional 3-piece gangster suit. So OG.
5:04 — Goodell welcomes us to the Draft and is heavily getting booed, which has turned into a tradition unlike any other. You can have your Masters and Jim Nantz soothing voiceovers, I’ll take insanely drunk New Yorkers booing the commissioner. New York Fans are the best. Like I say every year. The best, Jerry.
5:05 — Manziel sitting at the table and it looks like he has a Rolex on because of course he does. Have a feeling he’s going to be waiting a long time tonight. Not sure why. Just do.
5:09 — Houston has been on the clock for 130 days, how have they not made a pick yet? 5 minutes to go, maybe they’re looking to trade, most likely. At this point I’m rooting for chaos. I want trades. I want missed picks. I want bear hugs and bling and Tupac as a walk out songs.
5:12 — “who cares about Houston, what are the Raiders gonna do? Probably something dumb.”
5:13 — THE PICK IS IN … OK, let’s do this, Houston. Whaddya got? It has to be Clowney. Can’t pass up on this guy. Mayock thinks it’s Clowney even though he loves Khalil Mack.
5:15 — Here’s Goodell. So many boos. Awesome … “the Houston Texans select … Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina” … and Clowney is crying. All of the tears. Love his hair. I’ll never have hair like that. This guy has been the top prospect and pick for the last 12 months. It would’ve been awesome if he didn’t go to college last year, but you know he was coasting just for this moment. Worth it.
5:16 — giant bear hug for Goodell. You don’t realize just how big Clowney is until he’s standing next to Goodell and Roger is a big, big man.
5:18 — We have already moved on to who the Rams are taking at #2 and we think it’s Greg Robinson. Remember Rams GM Les Snead went to Auburn.
5:22 — shot of the Rams party and there’s a guy there in a Colt McCoy Browns jersey. What the hell is going on?! Man, the Rams are set to succeed right now, if they only had a competent QB. I would love them to pick Manziel here or at 13. But it’s not happening.
5:24 — Goodell out for the Rams pick… “Greg Robinson, tackle, Auburn” … safe pick. This dude is literally the size of a brick shithouse and Bradford, if he’s going to be successful for once, needs to block everybody. Robinson hugging his mom in the green room. “I love this part,” Irvin says.
5:27 — “I won’t let you down.” Robinson says right into the camera to Rams fans. Jaguars on clock and what is taking them so long?! Why are they not taking Manziel?! They have to sell tickets!
5:30 — Pick is in for Jacksonville. Look at Shad Khan and that hair and mustache. Don’t be shocked if it’s Bortles, Mayock just said. Holy shit that would be insane… “Blake Bortles” is the pick. WOW!!! Our first stunner of the draft. I’m stunned. Unreal. Look at Manziel. He’s as stunned as we are. Hoping people from Central Florida make the trip up to Jacksonville.
5:33 — “You think Deion has any idea who this guy is?” someone in the room just said. Hilarious. And WHERE IS HIS GIRLFRIEND?!?!?! And they are partying in the streets in Jacksonville. Did Rich just say “rabid Jacksonville fan base”??
5:34 — and we have a trade! Cleveland swaps down with Buffalo… Bills have to take Mack or Watkins, right? Let’s see what Owl, my resident Bills fan and former Draft Diary sidekick, has to say about this … wow, Bills gave up two picks next year to move up. A 1 and 4. Unreal. What a chaotic few minutes.
5:36 — Bills pick is in … here’s Goodell … Sammy Watkins! E.J. Manuel is doing backflips where he is right now. Aside: you think Watkins can pick out Buffalo on a map? Does he own any winter clothing? “I bet the girls in Buffalo are just as hot as South Carolina.. oh wait, yeah, no.” That’s cold, Abrams.
5:38 — we’ve heard from Owl: “cool! bye Stevie!” … and Watkins takes a selfie with Goodell! That’s so awesome. First one of the draft, surely not the last. Look what Ellen started…. “I thought they was messing when they said they were taking me.” Watkins tells Deion. By the way, Watkins’ suit is awesome. Love the Clemson pin.
5:41 — this Draft is already better than last year’s. Wow. so great…. Goodell out for the Raiders … Khalil Mack… what value there. Never thought he’d fall to 5. Raiders defense is going to be legit next year with him, Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley… this guy looks like a freaking man. Dang.
5:43 — “his game tape against Ohio st. is the single greatest game tape against Ohio st. I’ve ever seen.” Does Mayock like hyperbole? … Now the Falcons are up at 6 and can take their tackle, the only question is if it’s Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan … Faulk just said “now the Raiders have their Von Miller.” High praise (Nic Cage voice)
5:45 — Another shot of Manziel sitting and chilling as we hear Justin Timberlake to break. He’s definitely not going to Atlanta, could Tampa Bay be the landing spot? Who the hell knows at this point.
5:48 — EJ Manuel just tweeted 12 exclamation points and that’s it. He’s going nuts right now. He’s making it rain and drinking all the Hennessey.
5:50 — Before we get to more excitement, here’s Atlanta with some boring pick … Jake Matthews it is … he’s a lock for a 10-year career at least, 4 Pro Bowls. His pedigree is beyond ridiculous, and he looks like he’s 35… Shot of Falcons party and their RISE UP towels. Get excited for an offensive lineman!!
5:52 — Matt Ryan is sleeping a little easier tonight though. He got his ass kicked last year, and look at Matthews next to Goodell. He’s ripping through his suit like the Hulk. He’s gigantic. Matthews will probably play right tackle next year… great shot on ESPN of the Matthews football family tree. All that family does is procreate amazing football players. Much like the Brockmans except not.
5:57 — Bucs on the clock and who knows what they’re doing here. Mike Evans would be great to go along side Vincent Jackson … and ESPN can’t stop talking about Johnny Manziel … also, you want some comedy, do a quick twitter search of Ray Lewis right now.
5:59 — Mike Evans is the pick … so whomever is throwing him the ball should put up some monster numbers… hope Doug Martin is healthy … and we have another trade … Browns going up from 9 to 8 … who are they taking? Manziel?
6:01 — Who are the Browns moving up to take at 8? I want it to be Manziel, but it’s gotta be a corner, right? We are speculating Justin Gilbert? Marshall is standing up when talking about Mike Evans. He’s excited. This guy catches everything. Evans in tears. Love it when this happens. And we have our first Jesus Christ reference. Speaking of, what network do you think JC gets his coverage from: ESPN or NFLN?
6:03 — I just asked Richard Deitsch that on Twitter and he responded, “HBO.” Hilarious … the pick is in for the Browns and Irvin just called Mike Evans Calvin Johnson … who the hell knows what’s coming now with the Browns … could be anybody … Lewan or Gilbert is what AS says … Gilbert it is and such a let down … Yeah, this guy is good, but he’s not Johnny Football.
6:07 — I really like Justin Gilbert’s suit. He looks fantastic. Gilbert said he had a feeling a couple days ago that Cleveland might be a landing spot for him. And his favorite player was Deion growing up. This guy seems really polished.
6:08 — Vikings pick is in and Mayock says it’s either Darqueze Dennard or Anthony Barr, which is a little early for him. I’m thinking Aaron Donald, but no one is mentioning him. Mooch likes CJ Mosley… a “Who Drafts Manziel?” graphic to the right on NFLN and the Cowboys is at 58%. If he’s gonna side, please let him go there.
6:11 — OK, we’re getting backed up as the Lions have already made their pick … Vikings take Anthony Barr, who has tremendous upside and is our first pick who isn’t in New York. He’s at home in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif. That’s the way to do it. Big party at your house. “He has no idea what he’s doing” Mayock says. What does that even mean. That can’t be good, can it? “Exactly what you want from a top 10 pick.” Mayock contradicting himself already.
6:13 — and Barry Sanders is out to announce the Lions pick … the mic is too tall for him. He’s like Michael Dukakis. Move it down, Barry! and he thanks everyone for voting him on the cover of Madden last year. Get on with it… Lions take Eric Ebron tight end from UNC … what a day for him. He proposed to his GF on the top of the Empire State building this morning and now he’s a top 10 pick … Mayock is baffled by that. Is he locked into football or what? Wow, that offense is LOADED next year. Joseph Fauria is not dancing after this pick, either.
6:15 — this is a great spot for Ebron, I think. Big offense, they throw all the time. Lions are the new Patriots when it comes to tight ends. But honestly, what is he doing proposing? You’re about to be rich and you’re in the NFL. Parker Deay is pissed.
6:20 — Titans pick is in at #11 and it has to be a quarterback … I hope it’s Bridgwater to be honest, that would be hilarious … if we’re thinking about this logically, this is going to be Dennard or Taylor Lewan.
6:22 — Goodell’s out and it’s Taylor Lewan, the big ass tackle from Michigan… dang, Mrs. Lewan everybody. That’s some, um, yeah, upper body strength.
6:25 — So who goes to the Giants here? Has to be Zack Martin right now. Eli got sacked 8,000 times last year. They definitely need a receiver, but Odell Beckham is barely tall enough to ride the Superman at Six Flags.
6:29 — Giants take Odell Beckham. Wow! and look at that hair. He’s got the Honey Badger look going. And look at his watch. I hope that’s a rental. Irvin is loving Beckham. Here’s the question: Is Ei going to be upright long enough to throw it deep to him?
6:32 — look at the Rams and Cowboys war room as we bump to break with Manziel still sitting there waiting… and is that his sister sitting next to him? Some good genes in the Manziel family.
6:35 — Pick is in for the Rams at 13… they’ve been sending up this smokescreen that they’ve been interested in Manziel at this slot all week as Daniel Jeremiah throws out the idea of them taking Aaron Donald here, the best defensive lineman in the Draft, from Pittsburgh, which would make the Rams front line absolutely ridiculous.
6:38 — Shon Coleman, a cancer survivor who plays at Auburn out to make the pick and it’s Donald… wow. This line is insane. Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and now Donald. How on earth do you run the football against these guys. And are you passing out of a 1-step drop? I guess if you play in the toughest division in football you need to load up on defense. Have to try and stop the 49ers and Seahawks somehow.
6:39 — shot of the Rams party and the Colt McCoy is still there. “So is Elvis.”
6:43 — Bears up now and here’s Goodell … Kyle Fuller, the Virginia Tech defensive back. Bears are a boring team when Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett or Smokin’ Jay Cutler aren’t involved, so I really don’t have much to say … Steelers on the clock.
6:46 — Pick is already in and Jed York tweets that Twitter might explode … is he just stirring the pot or what? Here’s Goodell … Ryan Shazier, the all-world linebacker from Ohio St. “He looks like Charlie Villanueva” … “he’s one of the fastest linebackers I’ve ever seen come out of college football.” Thanks, Mike.
6:48 — NFLN shows Shazier running his 40 in basically his underwear and Irvin mutters “that’s a big man.” … Cowboys now on the clock at 16 and the Manziel speculation is through the roof on both channels. “I’m sure Tony Romo is loving this.” – AS
6:49 — Seriously, what is going to happen here? Honestly. Aaron Rodgers tweets that this is going to be an interesting 10 minutes. So awesome. Can Jerry Jones contain himself? “does this not prove this is greatest reality show on earth?” – AS
6:51 — Johnny’s phone is not ringing. What the hell is going to happen????
6:52 — this is so excruciatingly awesome. The suspense is killing me. AS is standing and screaming at the TVs. “what are we waitng for?! The picks is in! Ozzie Newsome has made his pick already!” Goodell is smiling as he walks to the podium. He wants it to be Johnny so badly, just like the rest of us.
6:53 — and it’s Zack Martin. What a let down. Twitter is blowing up with tweets of disappointment. Myself included.
6:57 — We still can’t believe Jerry passed on Johnny and now we’re trying to figure out where he’s going. Several teams coming up legitimately need a QB including Arizona, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and maybe Philly because of Chip Kelly, who wanted to coach him at Oregon.
7:00 — C,J. Mosely is the pick for the Ravens. And is that his dad wearing a white fedora? Maybe an uncle. That is fantastic. He’s going to be a good player. Alabama is known for producing good football players, I’ve been told. #RollTide
7:01 — so we just did some research and the only team left with a first round pick that is eligible to appear on Hard Knocks this summer is the Arizona Cardinals. Guessing Johnny goes there. Imagine the show HBO can put on with Johnny?
7:03 — Jets on the clock and the fans are readying their pipes to boo loudly whomever it is.
7:07 — I hope you’re all enjoying these shots of Manziel sitting there waiting because you’re gonna see them for the next decade… and he hasn’t said one word to his sister or his mom.
7:09 — Jets take Calvin Pryor, the safety from Louisville … “this guy is a bigger bob Sanders” says Mayock.. “that means he’s hurt already?” AS on point. This is totally a Rex move here. He’s gonna love this guy.
7:12 — We go to break with another shot of Manziel, who is seen scrolling his phone, no doubt checking Twitter and as his blood slowly boils. Whenever he’s picked he’s going to be salty in the interview. No way he saw this fall coming, even though news of it was breaking all morning. And on queue, text from Owl: “No wonder you love Johnny Football so much. Every time they show him he’s on the phone.” Well played, sir.
7:14 — a giant-headed Dan Marino is fighting the Dolphins mascot. Rich makes sure everyone at home knows it’s not the real Dan Marino. “If that was the real Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason would be right behind him telling he sucks.” I’m not allowed to say who just said that.
7:18 — Dolphins pick is in and it’s Ja’Wuan James, the big tackle from Tennessee and a few “wows” from the set. “The more tape I watch on this kid, the more I like him” says Mayock. Well there you go. We thought it was going to be Cyrus Killamanjaro.
7:19 — and the Saints have moved up into the 20 spot, swapping with Arizona, and this has to be a receiver, right? Marshall suspects that the saints want to get better on defense in the secondary and Dennard is still available.
7:23 — Saints swap picks and throw in a 3rd rounder this year (91st overall). Marshall likes Brandin Cooks here while Mayock thinks it might be Dennard. they need both positions to be honest.
7:25 — Ian Rapoport saying that Jerry Jones didn’t openly campaign to take Manziel but the room did have thoughtful discussion… and the Commish is out to announce the pick … Brandin Cooks it is… Drew Brees is very happy right now. Another weapon. Irivin compares him to Antonio Brown. We speculate that New Orleans must have thought the Eagles were taking him at 22.
7:27 — Packers on the clock and we’re thinking it’s either Ha Ha or Jace Amaro, the big tight end from Texas Tech … ESPN has something called the Bud Light Blue Room, which isn’t a room at all, it’s just Suzy Kolber on the stage and there’s no blue anywhere. Smart.
7:31 — graphic with a tweet from Mark Ingram about Johnny Manziel which is completely pointless. “great tweet Mark, you’re about a good a tweeter as you are a running back.” Also from someone in the room.
7:32 — Packers should probably take Ha Ha Clinton Dix since no one in that division can play any defense and they have to face the Bears and Lions twice who have tons of receivers… shot of the Packers war room and they’re all clapping and af ew fist bumps for Ted Thompson. They are happy. Mayock says Ted is an “old school scout.” … “And by that you mean he’s old and once went to school.” all of the jokes in here.
7:34 — Goodell is out and Dix is the pick. Well done. “He’s gonna sign his contract and then deliver caviar.” Nick Saban right there in the Chris Brockman role as Hat Guy. Seriously, Dix is amazingly dressed. Seriously, top notch. “That’s what swag is called, everybody at home.” Marshall has said swag 5 times in the last 30 seconds.
7:35 — maybe the tweet of the night from Jon Heyman about Dix.
7:37 — quick switch to ESPN and Gruden is going crazy at the thought of Andy Reid taking Johnny Manziel at 23.
7:40 — AND WE HAVE A TRADE!!! The Browns have moved up to 22 and swapped with Eagles here. Room thinks it’s Bridgewater… Mayock thinks it’s Cyrus Killamanjaro (I know that’s not his name, relax)… “the Dawg Pound will be celebrating if it’s Johnny Manziel.” Swapped picks and added a 3rd rounder this year (83rd overall)… this is going to be a boring pick. I just know it.
7:42 — and here we go … JOHNNY CLEVELAND!!!!!!!!!!!
7:43 — Johnny was the 22nd pick. So was Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden and Tim Couch wore #2. I’m not sure what that means but if anyone can break the curse it’s JFF.
7:46 — I’m the biggest Browns fan next season. And Sicliano is going nuts right now. He just pulled out his Tim Couch jersey and I’ve convinced him to put tape over it. “I’m gonna pour my heart out for this team and this organization.” Johnny is going to kill it in Cleveland.
7:48 — “I’m gonna bring excitement wherever I go.” Yeah you are, Johnny. Wow, look at this guy. He’s a freaking Beatle.
7:51 — Everything after this is the air out of the balloon… as Goodell comes out to announce Dee Ford, who said he was better than Clowney at the Combine, to the Chiefs.
7:57 — Bengals are up at 24 and take Dennard as Abrams punches the couch, hoping he’d be there at 25 for his Chargers. Great value. Didn’t think he’d fall that far.
7:59 — approaching the 3-hour mark of the draft and the Chargers pick is already in … Rapoport and DJ are saying the Browns aren’t done making moves and that they might move back into the first round to take possibly Marqise Lee. Browns aren’t screwing around.
8:02 — getting word of a great Scott Fujita tweet about having a condo to rent or sell Johnny. That’s awesome… and we get out first couch shot of Derek Carr and his girlfriend at home waiting. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
8:03 — Chargers take Jason Verrett who is tiny and dressed like a mortician but he can play and has a ton of hair.
8:05 — Siciliano is on the phone with his dad trying to talk him into the Johnny pick. Words being said over and over again: “gamble” “wow factor” “exciting”… AS might as well be working for the Browns PR department right now.
8:10 — Eagles take Louisville defensive lineman Marcus Smith, and camera cuts to a distraught Eagles fan as Mayock says the fan “has no idea who he is,” while then saying it’s a great pick and addresses a need.
8:12 — Cardinals up now, who traded down … gotta think Bridgewater and Carr are in play right now.
8:14 — cameras following Manziel throughout the Radio City doldrums like it’s Goodfellas at the Copa. Great shot. And he gives Brandin Cooks a hug. That’s awesome. Can the Browns do Hard Knocks next year?
8:16 — Cardinals take Deone Bucannon, which elicits a few groans and is definitely a reach, but that sures up their secondary big time. AFC West loading up on defense. Shot of the Cards party: “all of those fans bought their jerseys this morning.” NFL Media fantasy editor Michael Fabiano has 60k more followers than the official Cards account, by the way.
8:18 — Panthers on the clock and what are they waiting for. Get up there and take Marqise Lee .. ok good, here’s the commish … Kelvin Benjamin! Wow, there you go. I like this guy. He’s enormous. Reminds me of Marques Colston. “now you get a guy who’s area code is the catching range… reminds me a lot of Brandon Marshall.” Well then, high praise: “could be one of the biggest steals in this draft.”
8:20 — Patriots on the clock at 29 and Jace Amaro is available… or will they trade down AGAIN? Need to get somebody for Tom Brady or maybe some defensive line help.
8:25 — the Patriots have kept their pick and I’m shocked … Dominique Easley, defensive end from Florida is the guy. NFLN has a bio board and it’s noted he’s had not one, but two ACL surgeries. Awesome. It’s not enough the Pats have two old guys on the d-line, now they have one with bad knees. Uninspired.
8:29 — 49ers pick is in at 30 … fans are going NUTS at the their draft party …
8:32 — Jimmie Ward is the pick and Mayock immediately says “wow” and thought he was a second or third round pick… they are not surprisingly less NUTS at the 49ers party.
8:37 — Two picks to go and Mayock is praising Cleveland and what they did tonight: “give them credit for moving up and down the board and getting great value.”
8:38 — Broncos take Bradley Roby the defensive back from Ohio St. There’s some jokes here about some off-the-field issues between the front office and the player, but I’m not going to make them.
8:39 — also it’s been more than 3 hours and we still haven’t seen Blake Bortles’ girlfriend. Is she OK? Do I need to fly to NYC and find her? I’m willing to do whatever it takes here.
8:42 — and the Vikings have traded up to 32 and the guys are guessing they’re taking Bridgewater. It’s either him or Carr. Definitely a quarterback here.
8:45 — OK, here we go, Goodell out for the last time tonight … Vikings take Bridgewater … “you don’t have to come back tomorrow, that’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you,” the room says. Good for this kid. Seems like a genuine great kid. Poor pro day made him slip, but still a first rounder… Mayock saying he needs to get stronger but has good intangibles … “loves the game of football.” Me too.
8:46 — this just in: 25% of the first round picks are from Florida. I’ll give you one guess who Tweeted that out … thought Bridgewater would be there for Houston to start the second round, but good job by Minnesota to go up and get a starter… here’s Deion with Teddy: “made my mind up were gonna live in the moment and be anxious for nothing.” well done.
8:48 — OK, that’s gonna do it from here. Very fun start to the 2014 NFL Draft. Definitely a few surprises and of course, we were all captivated by Manziel falling but a lot of good stuff happened tonight. Cleveland made themselves better, for once Jerry Jones did the smart thing and Houston took the best player. Minnesota also helped themselves, as did St. Louis. And I hope you’re ready Rock City, Johnny Football is coming. Once again, no running backs were taken in the first round, and no player from USC or Miami, as their grip on this process loosens slightly. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the weekend brings.
LOS ANGELES — We are a mere hours away from the start of the 2014 NFL Draft, which kicks off Thursday night in primetime from Radio City Music Hall. As customary, rumors are flying across Twittersphere about trades and big names dropping, and teams are sending up smokescreens about who they’re interested in. But here at The Chris Brockman Website we’re not in the deception game, so we’re sticking to our word to complete our Mock Draft picks 32 to 1 as is. In case you need a refresher, here’s who our Draft Guru Shawn Bradley had slated for picks 11-32.
And now, as promised, Shawn’s Top 10.
10.) DETROIT LIONS — ERIC EBRON, TE, North Carolina
The Lions seem hellbent on adding another big-time receiving option to help keep eyes off of Calvin Johnson. Detroit’s new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi comes from New Orleans and is likely anxious to give Matthew Stafford a Jimmy Graham-type target. Like Graham, the 6-foot-4 Ebron is much more receiver than tight end, so expect him to line up all over the field while the re-signed Brandon Pettigrew handles in-line blocking duties.
9.) BUFFALO BILLS — JAKE MATTHEWS, T, Texas A&M
Doug Marrone gambled on E.J. Manuel last year, and for that bet to payoff Buffalo needs to keep it’s young signal caller healthy. After watching Manuel suffer through an injury-plagued rookie season, the Bills should be thrilled if the Draft’s most NFL-ready tackle falls into their laps. Matthews has All-Pro bloodlines and he might force Buffalo to move Cordy Glenn over to the right side immediately.
8.) MINNESOTA VIKINGS — BLAKE BORTLES, QB, Central Florida
Minnesota isn’t bringing in Bortles for a pre-Draft visit and they won’t be working him out privately either – the Vikings doth protest too much, methinks. Through this smokescreen it’s easy to see that the 6-foot-5, 232-pound Bortles is the type of quarterback Norv Turner would love to get his hands on. Like Manziel, expect Mike Zimmer to keep Bortles on the bench behind Matt Cassel until the playoffs become out of reach.
7.) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, Texas A&M
Lovie Smith is really not a Mike Glennon guy. Josh McCown has already been anointed the starter which will allow Manziel to redshirt for a season. Under minimal pressure to win in his first year with Tampa Bay, Smith appears poised to completely remodel the Buccaneers roster before handing the keys over to Johnny Football in 2015.
6.) ATLANTA FALCONS — GREG ROBINSON, T, Auburn
Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff has let everyone know he’s ready to trade up but landing this mammoth mauler with the sixth selection would be a coup. Robinson will start immediately at right tackle and eventually replace Sam Baker on the blind side. Matt Ryan will be a happy man knowing he has the 6-foot-5, 332-pound brickhouse Robinson protecting him for the foreseeable future.
5.) OAKLAND RAIDERS — TAYLOR LEWAN, T, Michigan
Another year, another wasted top ten pick by the Raiders. The Oakland Tribune recently reported that the team somehow prefers Lewan over Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews. It’s ridiculous to select Lewan this early, so it makes perfect sense for the Raiders to do it.
4.) CLEVELAND BROWNS — MIKE EVANS, WR, Texans A&M
It’s been an ugly offseason for the Browns, and whiffing on a quarterback here could paralyze this already crippled franchise. Evans and Josh Gordon have the potential to quickly become the most intimidating receiving duo in the league, no matter who lines up under center. With Jordan Cameron and Ben Tate in the mix as well, Cleveland would suddenly have the AFC North’s most dangerous collection of offensive weaponry.
3.) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — KHALIL MACK, LB, Buffalo
Mack appears to be the perfect fit for Gus Bradley’s defense and the Jaguars coach has been effusive with his praise of the Buffalo product. Mack should make an immediate impact as a pass rusher for a Jacksonville team that tied for last with just 31 sacks last season. Despite coming from a small school, the 6-foot-3, 251-pound Mack is universally loved by scouts and there doesn’t seem to be much concern about him transitioning smoothly from the small Mid-American Conference to the NFL.
2.) ST. LOUIS RAMS — SAMMY WATKINS, WR, Clemson
Playing in football’s most daunting division means the offensively-challenged Rams must add fire power. Protecting Sam Bradford is a priority for sure, but a quality offensive lineman might be available when St. Louis picks again at 13; a player like Watkins won’t be. Even in this absurdly deep receiver class, Watkins is clearly the most polished pass catcher and his presence should allow Tavon Austin to blossom in his second season.
1.) HOUSTON TEXANS — JADEVEON CLOWNEY, DE, South Carolina
Houston could be dumb enough to trade this pick – and if they do, the Bill O’Brien era will be a short one. The Texans must realize that pairing Clowney with J.J. Watt is the best way to combat Andrew Luck for the next decade. However, if Romeo Crennell foolishly forces Clowney play outside linebacker and drop into coverage then there will be unnecessary rookie struggles.
LOS ANGELES — Thanks to the Rockettes and their Easter extravaganza hogging the stage at Radio City Music Hall, there’s still a week still to go before the large human fashion and accessory show known as the 2014 NFL Draft. I don’t know about you, but the build-up has been exhausting. How many more times do we need to hear Jadeveon Clowney doesn’t work hard, or Johnny Manziel is too small and reckless to play quarterback in the league, or Blake Bortles’s girlfriend is really hot? Exactly. I’m tired just typing those words out.
So, before any of these future millionaire hits the red carpet, bear hugs the Commissioner and says unintelligible things to Deion Sanders, we here at The Chris Brockman Website (meaning, me) decided it would be fun to look at back at the last 10 years of the 1st Round of the NFL Draft (2004-2013) and, with the benefit of incredible George Costanza spotting squirrels and dimes hindsight, pick the best pick selection of the last 10 years at each slot, whom we’ve titled “Rock Star,” along with two Honorable Mentions – because for some selections there are multiple options – and who ended up being the worst at each draft slot, whom we’ve suggestively titled, “Burger Flipper.” It was that or “Freight Driver” or “Middle School Gym Teacher.”
Hope this holds you over for the next few days before the real fun. Enjoy. Send me nasty messages on Twitter telling me I got it wrong, but remember, you all have the same number of career sacks as Vernon Gholston.
1.) ROCK STAR: ANDREW LUCK, QB, Indianapolis Colts (2012) — When you’re 22-10 in two years with a nearly 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio, throw in 600-plus rushing yards and nine touchdowns, yeah, you’re a rock star. And you don’t think the Giants could’ve won those two Super Bowls with Luck?
Honorable Mention: Eli Manning (2004), Cam Newton (2011)
BURGER FLIPPER: JAMARCUS RUSSELL, QB Oakland Raiders (2007) — Sure, he’s the most infamous of the recent top picks, but in everyone’s defense, Russell was bad. Seven wins, 52-percent completion percentage and only 18 touchdowns in three seasons, and he weighed more than his left tackle.
2.) ROCK STAR: CALVIN JOHNSON, WR, Detroit Lions (2007) — If you need to know why Megatron is the best 2nd pick of the last decade just put on the tape from 2013’s Cowboys game in which he had 14 catches for 329 yards and a touchdown and get back to me. Throw in his four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro Team selections and he’s headed for a Hall of Fame career.
Honorable Mention: Ndamukong Suh (2010), Von Miller (2011)
BURGER FLIPPER: JASON SMITH, T, St. Louis Rams (2009) — Linemen selected with the second overall pick should start more than 26 games in four seasons. Even Robert Gallery made it eight years and started 103 games in that span.
3.) ROCK STAR: LARRY FITZGERALD, WR, Arizona Cardinals (2004) — Eight Pro Bowls, six seasons of over 1,000 yards receiving despite playing with JV quarterbacks most of his career, and some of the best hair in the NFL lock this down for Fitz. His 64-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XLVIII should’ve won the game if not for a crazy Steelers comeback, too.
Honorable Mention: Matt Ryan (2008), Joe Thomas (2007)
BURGER FLIPPER: TYSON JACKSON, DE, Kansas City Chiefs (2009) — Pass rushers are key but with only nine career sacks in five seasons, despite 55 starts isn’t going to cut it. Plus, it’s a tad too early to announce Marcel Dareus, Dion Jordan or even Trent Richardson busts.
4.) ROCK STAR: PHILIP RIVERS, QB, San Diego Chargers (2004) — Mr. Bolo Tie has been one of the grittiest quarterbacks in the league during his tenure, earning five Pro-Bowl selections, 79 wins as a starter, and 221 touchdown passes despite his awkward throwing style and fashion choices. Tough, hard-nosed and always willing to do whatever it takes for his team, Rivers is the undeniable face of the Chargers.
Honorable Mention: D’Brickashaw Ferguson (2006), A.J. Green (2011)
BURGER FLIPPER: AARON CURRY, LB, Seattle Seahawks (2009) — Curry registered just 5.5 sacks in his first two seasons and zero in his third full year. And the hammer of his argument: he couldn’t even bust into the Raiders roster in 2012.
5.) ROCK STAR: PATRICK PETERSON, CB, Arizona Cardinals (2011) — In just three short seasons Peterson is already one of the most explosive and dynamic defensive players in all of football. Throw in his return-game versatility (he even played a little offense in 2013) and it’s easy to see why he’s in this position. Cam Newton went first overall in 2011, but Peterson was, in my mind, the best player in that Draft.
Honorable Mention: Eric Berry (2010), Sean Taylor (2004)
BURGER FLIPPER: GLENN DORSEY, DT, Kansas City Chiefs (2008) — Remember the hype on Dorsey coming into the 2008 Draft? I’m sure we all expected more than six sacks in 78 career starts.
6.) ROCK STAR: VERNON DAVIS, TE, San Francisco 49ers (2006) — Davis entered the league with the body of an Adonis, and the hype to match, and he’s done nothing but live up to the immense expectations. Feared, explosive, Davis is a two-time Pro Bowler and scored 13 touchdowns two separate times in his eight-year career.
Honorable Mention: Julio Jones (2011), Kellen Winslow II (2004)
BURGER FLIPPER: VERNON GHOLSTON, DE, New York Jets (2008) — Probably the most famous defensive busts of the last decade, Gholston infamously registered a whopping zero career sacks during his three seasons with the Jets.
7.) ROCK STAR: ADRIAN PETERSON, RB, Minnesota Vikings (2007) — A body chiseled from stone, the most violent runner since Jim Brown, and eight yards from breaking the all-time, single-season rushing record make AD a rock star. Not to mention him topping 1,250 yards rushing in six of his seven seasons, to go along with three All-Pro selections.
Honorable Mention: Joe Haden (2010), Aldon Smith (2011)
BURGER FLIPPER: TROY WILLIAMSON, WR, Minnesota Vikings (2005) — Williamson played just one full season in his five NFL years and registered only 37 catches in it. He finished with four career touchdowns.
8.) ROCK STAR: DEANGELO HALL, CB, Atlanta Falcons (2004) — Say what you will about Hall, and plenty have, including himself, he’s produced in all three of his NFL stops. His 43 career interceptions ranks him fifth among active players; his mouth puts him first.
Honorable Mention: Antrel Rolle (2005), Eugene Monroe (2009)
BURGER FLIPPER: DERRICK HARVEY, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (2008) — Harvey played just three full seasons, garnering eight sacks and never lived up to the lofty expectations which surrounded him on draft day.
9.) ROCK STAR: LUKE KUECHLY, LB, Carolina Panthers (2012) — Only two years into the league, Kuechly is a bonafide rock star at the linebacker position. He has 200 tackles in two seasons and was AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and then AP Defensive Player of the Year in just his second season.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Rogers (2005), B.J. Raji (2009)
BURGER FLIPPER: DEE MILLINER, CB, New York Jets (2013) — It may be early to declare Milliner a bust, but when you’re declared the next island inhabitant, anything less is falling coconuts.
10.) ROCK STAR: JEROD MAYO, LB, New England Patriots (2008) — A two-time Pro Bowler and once All-Pro selection, Mayo is the unquestioned leader of a consistently stout Patriots defense. His presence was clearly missed after going down in Week 6 and missing the rest of 2013.
Honorable Mention: Michael Crabtree (2009), Dunta Robinson (2004)
BURGER FLIPPER: BLAINE GABBERT, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (2011) — Can you believe that before the 2011 Draft there was talk of Gabbert going first overall? This was a real discussion. Gabbert is 5-22 as a starter with just a 53.3 completion percentage. Great hair, though.
11.) ROCK STAR: BEN ROETHLISBERGER, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (2004) — This is far and away the most loaded of the 1st Round draft slots with four potential Hall of Famers (J.J. Watt was also an 11th overall pick). But when you play in a quarterback-driven league, and you’re a quarterback who’s won two Super Bowls (and played in another), you’re the Rock Star of this group, Mr. Roethlisberger.
Honorable Mention: DeMarcus Ware (2005), Patrick Willis (2007)
BURGER FLIPPER: AARON MAYBIN, DE, Buffalo Bills (2009) — Heralded as the next Bruce Smith when drafted, Maybin finished with six career sacks in four seasons. They all came in 2011.
12.) ROCK STAR: HALOTI NGATA, DT, Baltimore Ravens (2006) — Ngata has been the best defensive tackle in the game for several years now. Incredibly consistent and durable, he’s missed just five games in eight seasons, not to mention he’s a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro pick.
Honorable Mention: Marshawn Lynch (2007), Ryan Clady (2008)
BURGER FLIPPER: CHRISTIAN PONDER, QB, Minnesota Vikings (2011) — Another quarterback bust from 2011, Ponder had moments of competence, but was never a first-round talent. He does have more touchdowns (38) than interceptions (34) which is more than some can say.
13.) ROCK STAR: BRIAN ORAKPO, LB, Washington Redskins (2009) — A three-time Pro Bowler, Orakpo missed nearly all of 2012 and bounced back with 10 sacks last season to push his career total to 39.5. A feared edge rusher, he’s among the game’s best when at full strength.
Honorable Mention: Jammal Brown (2005), Sheldon Richardson (2013)
BURGER FLIPPER: BRANDON GRAHAM, LB, Philadelphia Eagles (2010) — Philadelphia traded up to get the Michigan standout and it hasn’t exactly paid dividends. Graham has started just 12 games in four seasons and has registered 11.5 sacks.
14.) ROCK STAR: DARRELLE REVIS, CB, New York Jets (2007) — Fourteen is the draft slot for top defensive talent. Revis, a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, is widely considered the best cornerback of his generation, and renders half the field unusable whenever he’s 100-percent. His 21 career interceptions seem low, but when no one throws your way out of fear, it’s hard to pick anything off.
Honorable Mention: Earl Thomas (2010), Robert Quinn (2011)
BURGER FLIPPER: CHRIS WILLIAMS, T, Chicago Bears (2008) — Inconsistent in his seven-year career, Williams has only been able to log three full seasons
15.) ROCK STAR: DERRICK JOHNSON, LB, Kansas City Chiefs (2006) — Johnson has been as steady as they come in all nine of his NFL seasons with the Chiefs. A three-time Pro Bowler and once an All-Pro, he has 376 tackles in the last three years for a strong Kansas City defense.
Honorable Mention: Branden Albert (2008), Brian Cushing (2009)
BURGER FLIPPER: TYE HILL, CB, St. Louis Rams (2006) — Hill played only one full season (his first) in five years in the league and registered five career interceptions.
16.) ROCKSTAR: DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE, CB, Arizona Cardinals (2008) — Once a Pro-Bowler after a six-interception season with the Cardinals, DRC has been steady throughout his six NFL years. His 19 career picks and more than 100 pass breakups make him still one of the league’s top corners.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Kerrigan (2011), Shawn Andrews (2004)
BURGER FLIPPER: JUSTIN HARRELL, DT, Green Bay Packers (2007) — Harrell could never stay on the field for the Packers. He played in just 14 games in three seasons and missed all of 2009 with an injury.
17.) ROCK STAR: JOSH FREEMAN, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009) — Before the wheels inexplicably fell off in 2013, Freeman was a big-time NFL quarterback with a 10-win and 4,000-yard season under his belt. He looked on his way to becoming one of the bright young stars in the league. We’ll see if he can regain that shine.
Honorable Mention: Chad Greenway (2006), Mike Iupati (2010)
BURGER FLIPPER: DAVID POLLACK, LB, Cincinnati Bengals (2005) — Pollack started just six of 16 games over two seasons and recorded four-and-a-half sacks before neck injury cut short his career.
18.) ROCK STAR: JOE FLACCO, QB, Baltimore Ravens (2008) — When you tell your owner, “nah, I’m good” on signing a crappy contract extension, then you go out and win the Super Bowl and sign a fresh $100 million deal, you’re a Rock Star. It also helps to be 28 games over .500 for your career as a starter and 9-4 in the playoffs.
Honorable Mention: Will Smith (2004), Leon Hall (2007)
BURGER FLIPPER: ERASMUS JAMES, DE, Minnesota Vikings (2005) — James played just one full season (his first) and had five sacks in four seasons, his career cut short by injury and an indefinite suspension by the league.
19.) ROCK STAR: ANTONIO CROMARTIE, CB, San Diego Chargers (2006) — Despite not knowing all his kids’ names, Cromartie has been a very good NFL corner, being named a Pro Bowler three times and once an All-Pro. His 28 career interceptions place him 10th on the active list.
Honorable Mention: Michael Griffin (2007), Jeremy Maclin (2009)
BURGER FLIPPER: JEFF OTAH, T, Carolina Panthers (2008) — After a successful rookie season in which he started 12 games, Otah caught the injury bug and started just 17 more in his short career. He missed all of 2010 due to injury.
20.) ROCK STAR: TAMBA HALI, DE, Kansas City Chiefs (2006) — A three-time Pro Bowler, Hali has missed only three games in eight seasons. Durable, reliable, and fearless, he’s sacked NFL quarterbacks 46.5 times in the last four years and is one of the game’s premier rushers.
Honorable Mention: Aqib Talib (2008), Kendall Wright (2012)
BURGER FLIPPER: KENECHI UDEZE, DE, Minnesota Vikings (2004) — I feel sorta terrible putting Udeze here since his career was cut short by leukemia, but he did have just 11 sacks in four seasons before his illness.
21.) ROCK STAR: VINCE WILFORK, DT, New England Patriots (2004) — The Heavy Chevy, Wilfork is what you call a run stopper, or a wide load, and has been among the best in the league at doing so during his 10-year career. A five-time Pro Bowler and once an All Pro, Wilfork’s value was seen last season when New England’s run defense was non-existent after his year-ending injury.
Honorable Mention: Alex Mack (2009), Reggie Nelson (2007)
BURGER FLIPPER: MATT JONES, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (2005) — I swear this isn’t sour grapes because I wasted a high fantasy pick on Jones once upon a time. High hopes heading into the league, Jones started just 15 games in his four years and couldn’t escape substance-abuse problems.
22.) ROCK STAR: DEMARYIUS THOMAS, WR, Denver Broncos (2010) — Thomas exploded as an elite pass-catcher when Peyton Manning arrived in Denver. Two 90-plus catch, 1,400-plus yard seasons later, No. 88 is a two-time Pro Bowler and a feared NFL receiver who’s only getting better.
Honorable Mention: Percy Harvin (2009), Manny Lawson (2006)
BURGER FLIPPER: BRADY QUINN, QB, Cleveland Browns (2007) — The best looking of the Guys Waiting Too Long In The Draft Green Room club, Quinn is just 4-and-16 in his career as a starter and has better biceps than deep ball.
23.) ROCK STAR: DWAYNE BOWE, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (2007) — Despite never playing with a top-level quarterback, Bowe has put up solid numbers in his seven seasons (67/914/6 averages) and at times has shown he’s capable of being a premiere receiver.
Honorable Mention: Davin Joseph (2006), Michael Oher (2009)
BURGER FLIPPER: DANNY WATKINS, G, Philadelphia Eagles (2011) — Watkins, the Canadian firefighter, started 12 games his rookie season but has only started six in the last two.
24.) ROCK STAR: AARON RODGERS, QB, Green Bay Packers (2005) — Rodgers made fun of me for being bald at a post-awards show party (#Humblebrag) and he owned the place like a rock star. On the football field his credentials speak for themselves: Super Bowl winner, league MVP, three-time Pro Bowler, All Pro, 58 wins in six years as a starter, commercial pitchman.
Honorable Mention: Steven Jackson (2004), Dez Bryant (2010)
BURGER FLIPPER: PERIA JERRY, DT, Atlanta Falcons (2009) — Jerry started just 15 games in fours seasons and registered two sacks, before bouncing back in 2013 with 14 starts and three-and-a-half sacks.
25.) ROCK STAR: JON BEASON, LB, Carolina Panthers (2007) — Beason was a monster his first four seasons in the league with Carolina. He started all 64 games, averaged over 100 tackles per season and made three Pro Bowls and was named to the All-Pro team once. Injuries have cost him some of his productivity of late but he’s still a respectable player for the Giants.
Honorable Mention: Santonio Holmes (2006), Mike Jenkins (2008)
BURGER FLIPPER: AHMAD CARROLL, CB, Green Bay Packers (2004) — Carroll played well his first two years in the league, but ultimately has started just 28 games in five seasons with three career interceptions.
26.) ROCK STAR: CLAY MATTHEWS, LB, Green Bay Packers (2009) — Matthews has missed a handful of games in recent years but otherwise he’s been one of the most feared and consistent pass rushers in the NFL. A four-time Pro Bowler and an All Pro, Matthews has 50 career sacks in five seasons with Green Bay and has Hall of Fame pedigree.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Spencer (2007), Duane Brown (2008)
BURGER FLIPPER: JOHN MCCARGO, DT, Buffalo Bills (2006) — One career start in six seasons and only a couple of sacks, that’s rough for a first round pick, regardless of an injury-riddled career.
27.) ROCK STAR: RODDY WHITE, WR, Atlanta Falcons (2005) — White has been a stellar NFL receiver in his tenure. A five-time Pro Bowler and an All Pro, he had a streak of six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and even led the league in receptions (115) in 2010.
Honorable Mention: Jason Babin (2004), DeAngelo Williams (2006)
BURGER FLIPPER: JIMMY SMITH, CB, Baltimore Ravens (2011) — It took Smith three seasons to become a starter in Baltimore but you want a first round corner to have more than four interceptions in three years.
28.) ROCK STAR: JOE STALEY, T, San Francisco 49ers (2007) — Staley has started all 98 games he’s played in his seven-year career, including every game the last three seasons. A three-time Pro Bowler, he’s the protector of Colin Kaepernick’s blind side.
Honorable Mention: Chris Gamble (2004), Marcedes Lewis (2006)
BURGER FLIPPER: LAWRENCE JACKSON, DE, Seattle Seahawks (2008) — An inconsistent starter in Seattle, Jackson was a solid sub for three seasons with the Lions before flaming out with 19 career sacks.
29.) ROCK STAR: NICK MANGOLD, C, New York Jets (2006) — No center in the last decade has been as durable and dependable as Mangold. He’s started all 126 games in his eight seasons and is a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro, and also is the owner of one of the league’s best beards.
Honorable Mention: Hakeem Nicks (2009), Ben Grubbs (2007)
BURGER FLIPPER: KENTWAN BALMER, DT, San Francisco 49ers (2008) — When you fail to record a sack and only start 11 games in five seasons, you should probably flip burgers.
30.) ROCK STAR: HEATH MILLER, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers (2005) — A steady head at the tight end position, Miller, a two-time Pro Bowler, has been Ben Roethlisberger’s safety valve for years. He’s averaged more than 50 catches and 4 touchdowns a season over his nine years.
Honorable Mention: Muhammed Wilkerson (2011), Joseph Addai (2006)
BURGER FLIPPER: A.J. JENKINS, WR, San Francisco 49ers (2012) — Jenkins has played in 19 games and has eight career receptions. Me, too.
31.) ROCK STAR: GREG OLSEN, TE, Chicago Bears (2007) — Olsen is as sure-handed as you’ll find at the tight end position and has been/is a big target for Jay Cutler and Cam Newton. He’s averaged 55 catches and five touchdowns a year in his seven seasons.
Honorable Mention: Doug Martin (2012), Mike Patterson (2005)
BURGER FLIPPER: RASHAUN WOODS, WR, San Francisco 49ers (2004) — Played in 14 games his rookie season garnering only seven receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown and then was never heard from again. Seriously, he disappeared. If you know where he is, let me know.
32.) ROCK STAR: LOGAN MANKINS, G, New England Patriots (2005) — One of the premiere guards in the league, Mankins has been the Patriots most stable lineman. He’s started 130 games in nine seasons and is a six-time Pro Bowler and once an All Pro.
Honorable Mention: Mathias Kiwanuka (2006), Benjamin Watson (2004)
BURGER FLIPPER: DEREK SHERROD, T, Green Bay Packers (2011) — Drafted to protect Aaron Rodgers, Sherrod has played in only 12 games in two years (zero starts) and missed all of 2012 with an injury.
LOS ANGELES — I have to write about Tony Romo this week. Wow, what a game he played last Sunday against Denver. He went toe-to-toe with Peyton Manning and nearly came out victorious. Nearly. That seems to be a word we use often to describe Romo and his play. He nearly puts it all together. He nearly comes away with big victories when his team needs them the most. He nearly is among the top QBs in the league. In the offseason, when Jerry Jones signed Romo to that outrageous $108M contract, Jones said he wanted his quarterback to be more like Manning. He meant this in terms of being a complete football guy. Putting in the extra hours in the film room, working out, running routes with his receivers. Romo even went out of his way bypass his annual attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open this summer. And look, it’s shown. Romo has been out of his mind this year. He’s second in TD passes (13), INTs (2) and passer rating (114.3), and third in completion percentage (71.8%) but yet the Cowboys are only 2-3. Why is this? Is it all on his shoulders? When you get paid nine figures it all goes on you whether it’s your fault or not. Team can’t run the football? Who cares, you’re getting $100M. Defense can’t get off the field? BFD. You’re getting paid $100M. The NFC East is primed for Dallas’ taking and it’s up to Romo to take it.
Let’s find out who’s The Man.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (record: 0-5) (last week: 32) — For a second, didn’t you think Jacksonville might pull off the upset against St. Louis? And Justin Blackmon, nice wheels.
31.) New York Giants (0-5) (30) — This is getting ugly with the Giants. Real ugly.
30.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) (31) — So now McGlennon (as Warren Sapp calls him) is the captaining the pirate ship. I’m guessing a lotta turnovers and handoffs to Doug Martin (my pick to win the rushing crown) this week against the Eagles.
29.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) (29) — Who woulda thought that Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, with four Super Bowl rings between them, wouldn’t have a win after five weeks. Sure as hell not me. And not you, either.
28.) Minnesota Vikings (1-3) (25) — Is it amusing to anyone else that three of the bottom five teams all had byes last week? Welcome to town, Josh Freeman! What week is Freeman the full-time starter? Seven? Eight?
27.) Carolina Panthers (1-3) (24) — Heard an interesting stat: Cam Newton’s top two career passing games are still his first two ever played back in 2011. You believe that?
26.) Buffalo Bills (2-3) (21) — Really feel for E.J. Manuel, but he’s fortunate his knee injury isn’t as serious as Brian Hoyer’s, who’s hit looked less severe in comparison. Can’t believe it’s gonna be Tuel Time for the next couple weeks. There is some bad NFL quarerbacking going on in a few of these cities.
25.) St. Louis Rams (2-3) (27) — If the Rams lost to the Jaguars there were going to be MAJOR problems. Now comes a winnable game against the floundering Texans. Five-hundred a real possibility and a new season.
24.) Oakland Raiders (2-3) (28) — I’ve always said I wanted to like the Raiders. Not sure why, maybe it’s the simplistic badassery of their uniforms, or the “Just Win, Baby” attitude, but now I have a legitimate reason with the way Terrelle Pryor is playing. As Rich Eisen likes to say, he’s a factor.
23.) Washington Redskins (1-3) (26) — Another week’s rest for My Good Friend Robert can’t be a bad thing, nor is it bad for Alfred Morris’s banged-up ribs. But now they return to play on Sunday night against a Dallas team that’s feeling itself after hanging better than maybe anyone will this season against the Broncos.
22.) Houston Texans (2-3) (14) — In our Saturday GameDay Morning meeting, the guys throw out Bold Predictions and see what sticks. Well, before Marshall Faulk settled on taking Terrelle Pryor topping the Chargers in rushing yards, he toyed with the idea of taking Matt Schaub to throw a Pick 6 for a fourth straight game. Seemed laughable at the time.
21.) Atlanta Falcons (1-4) (15) — The wheels are falling off the Falcons bus with Monday’s shocking loss to the Jets and then Tuesday’s news that Julio Jones is most likely lost for the season with a foot injury. Good thing I have Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez on my also 1-4 fantasy team. Oh wait.
20.) Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) (23) — The Eagles have been outscored by 24 points this season, haven’t won at home and yet are tied for the lead in the NFC East but have a big task with Mike vick on the shelf for at least this week. That’s how wide open the NFC is. It’s going to be a such a fun ride the second half of the season.
19.) Arizona Cardinals (3-2) (22) — Raise your hand if you thought the Arizona Cardinals were 3-2? My hand is not raised. I had to double check that. It seems like they’re winning in spite of Carson Palmer, who’s completed less than 60% of his passes, has a passer rating of 67.0 and has nine interceptions to only five touchdowns.
18.) Cleveland Browns (3-2) (19) — Really excited for Browns fans and the city of Cleveland. What an awesome ride the last three weeks have been. Really feel for Brian Hoyer though, who was enjoying his best go as a professional quarterback before tearing his ACL last Thursday. Highly doubt Brandon Weeden can keep it going.
17.) San Diego Chargers (2-3) (13) — If Tony Romo went Tony Romo on Sunday, then the Chargers went Chargers Sunday night against the Raiders. I mean, how classic was opening-drive interception followed by giving up a bomb for a TD?
16.) Tennessee Titans (3-2) (12) — The Amish Rifle had the Titans so close to knocking off the Chiefs but you just knew he was going to turn it over at a key moment, and lo and behold, he did.
15.) Baltimore Ravens (3-2) (18) — Impressive win last week, going down to Miami and taking care of business. Still, it’s a little concerning Ray Rice is still only averaging 2.9 yards per carry this season. Though fantasy owners have to be pleased by his two scores.
14.) New York Jets (3-2) (20) — What did I tell you about the Geno Smith roller coaster?! Wow, that was something on Monday. I officially have no clue about the Jets. They could beat the Steelers this week by 20 or lose by 10. It’s all in play.
13.) Chicago Bears (3-2) (11) — This is the Jay Cutler Era for ya; win three straight, lose two. I’m expecting another 3-game run here followed by an injury and crushed playoff hopes.
12.) Detroit Lions (3-2) (10) — Well, I guess we see how important Calvin Johnson is to the Detriot Football Lions. Still think they’re better than the Bears, though.
11.) Miami Dolphins (3-2) (7) — There’s a lot of teams in the same boat this season. Hard to tell if that boat is sailing toward Playoff Island or not. Also, Brian Hartline was at NFL Network this week and I told him how my buddy Jason took 25 minutes to take him in the 8th round of my fantasy draft. Needless to say he was flabbergasted.
10.) Dallas Cowboys (2-3) (17) — I still say the Cowboys win the NFC East and then get blown out in the Wild Card. But hey, at least they made it, right? That’s worth $108 million. Right?
9.) Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) (16) — Yes, there was a monsoon right as Tom Brady was going to make this trademark comeback. Yes, the Patriots trotted out a JV corps of wide receivers. Yes, they only scored 13 points. But still, the Bengals gutted out that win and look like a playoff team.
8.) New England Patriots (4-1) (6) — At the end of the day, the Patriots are still 4-1 but six points is not going to cut it. The offense has to get better and if Rob Gronkowski comes back this week, it will. Just not sure it’s enough to take down the Saints.
7.) Green Bay Packers (2-2) (9) — Would’ve liked to have seen the Packers blow out the Calvin Johnson-less Lions but a win is a win is a win. If they can run the football a little better, Green Bay should contend in the action-packed NFC.
6.) Indianapolis Colts (4-1) (8) — Rich Eisen was on Dan Patrick Thursday morning talking Top 10 NFL quarterbacks and didn’t want to put Andrew Luck in there. I would have him in there. He’s damn good. And this is a damn good football team.
5.) San Francisco 49ers (3-2) (5) — Colin Kaepernick had just six completions and the 49ers routed Houston. Not sure if that says more about the state of the Texans or how potent this San Francisco offense is when clicking on all cylinders.
4.) Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) (4) — The Chiefs faced a little adversity on Sunday on the road, and when the going got tough made the plays needed to remain unbeaten. Of course, they were playing against the Amish Rifle, so yeah, maybe it wasn’t that impressive.
3.) Seattle Seahawks (4-1) (1) — If the Seahawks had pulled another comeback win on the road I would’ve been very shocked. As it were, they suffered their first loss and are no longer The Man.
2.) New Orleans Saints (5-0) (3) — The Saints have reached the point where there’s no chance I’m ever picking against them. Zero. They are in full-out Eff You Mode and I like it. Even though Sean Payton strikes me as that annoying frat guy who’s always gets hammered and runs his mouth about how rich his daddy is.
1.) Denver Broncos (5-0) (2) — We know how good Peyton Manning is, but the biggest question the remainder of the season will be can that defense get stops when needed. We’ll find out next week when Von MIller returns from suspension.
LOS ANGELES — There’s a lot to be learned after just three weeks of a football season, yet at the same time it’s still a little early to come to conclusions about teams and players’ fate. I’m sure we all don’t expect Peyton Manning to keep this up or the Giants to be this dreadful, though surely we’re all surprised by Trent Richardson’s trade and Josh Freeman’s benching. This we do know: there are several teams and players performing very poorly and a few teams who look really good. One or two will stay on this path and everyone else will go up and down as the season ebbs and flows towards Super Bowl XLVIII.
That’s just how the National. Football. League. works. And why we live and die with it each week and why we love it. I can’t wait to see what Week 4 will bring. Until then, let’s find out who’s The Man.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) (32) — Of course, the game I bench Maurice Jones-Drew, since he’s playing against the vaunted Seattle defense, at home no less, he scores a late, garbage touchdown. Thank goodness that didn’t cost me a win, since my team is terrible. Then I really would’ve thrown something at my television. Even more so than watching the crappy “Dexter” finale.
31.) Minnesota Vikings (0-3) (30) — We’re about two more brutal losses to teams of the Browns quality (no offense, Cleveland) from me starting a Free Adrian campaign.
30.) Tampa Bay Bucanneers (0-3) (29) — How much would you pay to watch a webcam of the Bucs lockerroom? $2? $5? I think there’s some mess going on in there that I’m guessing is pretty damn interesting. Oh, and good luck, Mike Glennon, you’re gonna need it. And it’s time for a decent haircut, you’re a starting NFL quarterback now.
29.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) (28) — When my dad knows the Steelers are in trouble, they really are. Seriously, how are they going to score points outside of Emmanuel Sanders or Antonio Brown breaking free on a long bomb?
28.) Washington Redskins (0-3) (24) — Preseason Week 3 went about as well as it could go, right? And did you know this is the first time EVER the Giants and Redskins have both started the year 0-3?
27.) New York Giants (0-3) (20) — The Giants are only this high because they’ve shown in the past it doesn’t matter how they start, they always seem to make it interesting down the stretch. How many more losses before the New York media starts calling for Tom Coughlin’s job?
26.) Cleveland Browns (1-2) (31) — So apparently the formula is: trade your best player, start your 3rd string QB and start winning games. Which team will be the next to follow this to Ws?
25.) Oakland Raiders (1-2) (25) — I really hope Terrelle Pryor isn’t hurt long term because he could become a special player. Though it might be time to have the conversation about the end of Darren McFadden, or at him being in need of a change of scenery to inject some life into his career.
24.) Carolina Panthers (1-2) (27) — Thirty-eight points?! Where did that come from this week? And does it say more about the Panthers being capable of turning this season around (they’re on a bye this upcoming week) or how miserable this Giants season is going to be?
23.) Arizona Cardinals (1-2) (22) — Almost positive this Cardinals team is going to be the one this season where I have no idea what to write about it each week. Most weeks it’ll probably be a lot of me gushing about the Honey Badger.
22.) St. Louis Rams (1-2) (21) — The Rams are the Cardinals are very similar in the respect that both have quarterbacks who aren’t really good but can make plays every once in a while, have solid skill guys who are underused, and defenses who could be great but something or another holds them back. Doesn’t help they play in the hardest division in football.
21.) Buffalo Bills (1-2) (24) — Not sure why but I like this team. I like E.J. Manuel. I like Doug Marrone. And I like that Manuel likes throwing to Stevie Johnson (have I mentioned that before?) They went up against a tough Jets team (can’t believe I just typed those words) on the road and nearly won. They’re going to be OK here in a bit.
20.) New York Jets (2-1) (26) — A month ago, I really thought we’d be talking about the temperature of Rex Ryan’s hot seat, not a 2-1 team with a rookie quarterback playing decently and a defense near the top of the league. Just amazing. When you think you have the NFL figured out, you realize you have no idea.
19.) Detroit Lions (2-1) (18) — The Lions got their first-ever win in Washington last week and then in the most bizarre story we’ve had this season, Nate Burleson broke is arm in a car accident when he was distracted by falling pizza and then hit the median. Your move, Bengals.
18.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) (16) — We know the Eagles don’t play any defense, but we also know the Eagles are still figuring out their own offense. Since the first half of the win against the Redskins they’ve been punked by the Chargers and Chiefs. I still think they’re going to be OK though. Not enough to make the playoffs but enough to lay the foundation.
17.) San Diego Chargers (1-2) (15) — Tennessee has proven to be a tough, hard-fighting team, so there’s no shame in losing to them. It seems like the AFC West is going to be more than a Denver runaway and the Chargers aren’t going to be an easy beat this year.
16.) Baltimore Ravens (2-1) (17) — I don’t know how the Ravens are above .500 but somehow they are. Very good win last week. Emotional with the retiring of Ray Lewis’s number and they found a way. That’s going to be their M.O. this season: finding a way.
15.) Dallas Cowboys (2-1) (14) — See what happens when DeMarco Murray gets his carries? Now if only he could run against the Rams each week he’d be in Adrian Peterson territory. I happen to think Dallas will beat San Diego this week which will set the ‘Boys up nicely this season, but we’ll see. They’re bound for a stinker.
14.) Houston Texans (2-1) (7) — There’s something about the Texans I don’t like. I can’t put my finger on it. Matt Schaub has done some Matt Schaub-like things this year. Arian Foster seems a bit disgruntled. Andre Johnson is dinged. But J.J. Watt is still awesome, but how long can he carry this team?
13.) Tennessee Titans (2-1) (13) — I haven’t seen more than a few seconds of the Titans play but I know Warren Sapp loves their defense. And when a first ballot Hall of Famer tells you something, you listen. Jake Locker is also proving to be very dangerous with his feet, which is something you can’t ever prepare for.
12.) Indianapolis Colts (2-1) (19) — Andrew Luck bent his old coach over his leg and gave him a spanking last week. I don’t know how else to explain what happened against the 49ers. Trent Richardson’s first carry in the blue and white was a touchdown and Indy’s defense made Colin Kaepernick look like a novice back there. This could be a dangerous team.
11.) Atlanta Falcons (1-2) (10) — I’m not convinced the Falcons could be fine without Steven Jackson, but an unhealthy Roddy White is really limiting Matt Ryan’s vertical attack. His offensive line isn’t giving him much, either, but this still is an explosive offense and a playoff team.
10.) New England Patriots (3-0) (8) — It’s hard to be undefeated yet still drop each week in the rankings, but that’s just what the Patriots have done thus far. I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but Tom Brady hasn’t been good through three games, tantrums, dropped passes or not. He’s missed a lot of throws. But as long as the defense keeps bringing its A Game, the Pats will be OK.
9.) Green Bay Packers (1-2) (5) — Their running backs ran hard, aside from Jonathan Franklin’s late-game fumble, and the defense was opportunistic, Aaron Rodgers made a couple bad throws late in the game which cost Green Bay. This is still a dangerous team but the jury is out if it’s playoff bound.
8.) Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) (9) — Andy Dalton is a good, not great, quarterback. He’s taken this team to the playoffs the last two seasons. He has playmakers all around him and a good defense. The Bengals should win the AFC North going away and contend in the conference. They should.
7.) Miami Dolphins (3-0) (12) — Raise your hand if you saw an undefeated start from the Dolphins coming? Anyone? Didn’t think so. Their running backs aren’t great and you can’t name one of their receivers other than Mike Wallace. But they play hard, Mr. Lauren Tannehill is slingin’ it and Cameron Wake and Dion Jordan are pinching the ends like mofos. They’re gonna be in the hunt all season.
6.) San Francisco 49ers (1-2) (4) — I still think the 49ers are good. I still think Colin Kaepernick is a superstar in the making, but as someone said to me last weekend, he’s feeling himself a little too much. He’s buying into his own hype a little too much. Take him favoriting all the “hate” tweets this week. Why? How does that motivate you?
5.) Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) (11) — What an awesome scene in Philly last week. Really proud of the fans for showing Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb the respect they deserved. Too bad they couldn’t show the same gratitude when the two of them were leading the Eagles to NFC East titles and conference championship games. Chiefs are making the playoffs. Mark it down. That defense and zero turnovers, along with Jamaal Charles, they might even beat Denver.
4.) New Orleans Saints (3-0) (6) — Would you believe the Saints are 4th in Total Defense (295.7 ypg) and 6th in Offense (404.3 ypg)? Jimmy Graham is out of his mind right now and though it appears New Orleans has zero running game right now, at least it doesn’t have to worry about always being in a shootout with teams.
3.) Chicago Bears (3-0) (3) — Jay Cutler has the mojo working so far but before we all get carried away, myself included, let’s remember he’s gotten off to hot starts each of the last few seasons with the Bears with nothing to show for it. So while he looks great now, let’s not count the cubs before they’re done hibernating.
2.) Denver Broncos (3-0) (2) — Actual Yahoo headline on Tuesday: “Is it too early to give Peyton Manning the 2013 NFL MVP?” Manning’s stat line this season is ridiculous with 1,143 yards, 12 TDs and ZERO picks, not to mention his 73% completion rate, only 4.2% higher than his previous career high, but MVP? After 3 weeks? Slow the truck down, people.
1.) Seattle Seahawks (3-0) (1) — Yes, the Seahawks gave up 17 points to the Jaguars. Yes, that is unacceptable. Yes, they’ve won 10 in a row at home. No, they will not lose at home this season. Yes, they are The Man until there’s a something in the “L” column.
LOS ANGELES — Passionate fan bases are part of what makes sports so amazing and unique and special, but it’s not just that we are fans of our favorite teams, rather it’s how we go about cheering them on to victory that makes it so awesome. Sunday, I watched the first half of the Seahawks/49ers game at a Seattle bar and in it where about 150-200 of the most insane people I’ve ever met. Every single one of them was decked out in some kind of Seahawks’ paraphernalia, including some pretty awesome old jerseys: Steve Largent, Jon Kitna, Joey Galloway and then today’s stars, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Sidney Rice. One of the dudes, who was in the group I was in – my friend Stacye invited me out after I told her I had to watch a game with her given how rabid she is about Pete Carroll’s crew – even had a 12th Man jersey with “U Mad Bro” on the back. Oh, and it was sleeveless.
The other thing that struck me about everyone in the bar was their decibel level. Ironic that the Q set the record for outdoor noise the same night, because it felt about 136db around me every time Wilson was shown on TV. Seriously, these people went ape nuts every time anything happened. Seattle’s tight end DROPPED a touchdown and everyone lost their mind. It was pretty awesome to be there, too bad I missed most of the scoring plays, surely I would’ve lost my hearing by then. Even on Twitter everyone is crazy about them. I posted a couple nuggets and got immediate response. Love it.
The Hawks’ beatdown of San Francisco this week was definitely as impressive as their fans’ loyalty and devotion, but was it enough to make them The Man this week?
Let’s find out.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) (32) — I wonder what Teddy Bridgewater thinks of the Jaguars helmets? Because if he doesn’t like them, you can be he’s going to pull a John Elway/Eli Manning and refuse to play for them when he’s drafted No. 1 overall less than 8 months from now. And I know no one cares about anyone else’s fantasy team, but you guys are my people, so I assume you care about mine. Well guess who got hurt Sunday for the Jags? You guessed it: EFFIN’ MAURICE JONES-DREW. I’m never taking him again. Ever. Ever.
31.) Cleveland Browns (0-2) (31) — I’ve seen “Old School” at least 150 times, no joke, and one of my favorite lines (among a hundred) is when Blue dies, and , his funeral Vince Vaughn says to Luke Wilson, “dammit, Blue was old, that’s what old people do, they die.” I feel like this is what we have to say about Brandon Weeden. Except he’s only 29. It’s just funny.
30.) Minnesota Vikings (0-2) (25) — Early Sunday a report was circulating that Bucs head coach Greg Schiano and quarterback Josh Freeman at odds and that Freeman might be traded on Tampa’s bye week. Immediately, I started seeing rumors of him going to the Vikings. I know Minnesota would do that faster than Adrian Peterson can sprint 78 yards for at touchdown, but who does Tampa want in return? Sure as hell not Christian Ponder.
29.) Tampa Bay Bucanneers (0-2) (30) — So yeah, who’s going to be quarterbacking this team a month from now? I think Vince Young and Matt Leinart are available. Also, for the second week in a row, the game was handed to them to win and they flubbed it up and got the L. That really tells you all you really need to know.
28.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) (28) — It could be a long year in the Steel City. Ten points last night against the Bengals, nine the week before against the Titans. No running game. Lost their center for the year, another starter on defense.
27.) Carolina Panthers (0-2) (27) — Something’s not right with Cam Newton. Clearly, I don’t know what it is, but watching Sunday’s game, he was downright Weedenonian in the first half. Overthrowing guys by 15 yards, balls into the turf, bad sacks. He got better in the second half, but this is beginning his third year, he should be further along than this. He should be beating the Bills.
26.) New York Jets (1-1) (26) — I’ll give the Jets this: they sure played hard on Thursday and really should’ve beaten the Patriots. Geno Smith showed his rookie colors in the New England downpour and let one too many ball sail on him, but that Jets defense stymied Tom Brady the entire game, save for the opening drive. It’ll be interesting how this plays out, but Rex coached ’em up and if they can get any offense, they got a punchers chance.
25.) Oakland Raiders (1-1) (29) — For years it was so typical of the Raiders to have the most money on their team tied up in their kickers. Now it’s their fullback who’s cashing big checks. Well, Marcel Reese scored a touchdown Sunday to “justify” the pay day. And good for him. Fullbacks are people, too. And I know they played Jacksonville, but the Silver & Black’s defense didn’t look half bad.
24.) Washington Redskins (0-2) (15) — Umm… so this was Preseason Week 2, right?
23.) Buffalo Bills (1-1) (24) — Impressive win on Sunday, even though it was against the Panthers, but EJ Manuel didn’t play great – he left a lot out there despite Carolina giving him multiple chances – but he led an impressive sub-2-minute drive (got some help on a phantom PI call on Luke Kuechly) and tossed a game-winning TD pass. Once he figures out what he’s doing in this league, he’s going to be a good one. And if there’s any silver lining for my fantasy team this season (yes, I’m already thinking about next year) it’s that he LOVES throwing to Stevie Johnson. It’s only just two games in, but it appears Doug Marrone made the right move going all-in on EJ.
22.) Arizona Cardinals (1-1) (22) — Even with a hobbling Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona still managed to find a way to pull out a come-from-behind win against what looks like a pretty decent Lions team. Tryann Mathieu yet again made a big defensive play and Carson Palmer did just enough not to lose it. Not sure what to make of their running game but the Cardinals can compete with anyone.
21.) St. Louis Rams (1-1) (21) — So THAT’s how Jeff Fisher wants to use Tavon Austin. Got it. That kid might have a future in this league. I like how the Rams showed some fortitude in coming back when it appeared they were gonna get blown out by the Falcons. They play in the toughest division in football and last year went 4-1-1 in that division. There’s no reason to think they couldn’t do that again.
20.) New York Giants (0-2) (13) — David Wilson gets benched for two fumbles and Eli Manning keeps his job despite 7 interceptions. Now, I understand how the quarterback position works. There’s a lot that goes into some of those picks; deflections, bad routes, and so on. But this is not a good start for the Blue Men Group. Again. Tom Coughlin on the hot seat in 3…2…1…
19.) Indianapolis Colts (1-1) (16) — Andrew Luck’s magic couldn’t extend for a second week in a row, but T.Y. Hilton showed why many raved about him in the preseason, hauling in 6 passes for 124 yards. This is a tricky team to get. The Colts won a lot of games last year in the closing minutes. Has their good fortune run out?
18.) Detroit Lions (1-1) (19) — Every time I watch Matthew Stafford throw the ball I’m reminded of how I must’ve looked growing up playing pick-up football in the field behind our house in the Coast Guard housing complex. Just slinging it from all angles. And is anyone else concerned that Reggie Bush is already ailing in a few different places?
17.) Baltimore Ravens (1-1) (14) — Still getting the champions discount, this Ravens team is a funny one. Struggled to beat the Browns on the day they raised the banner, no great offensive go-to guy outside of Ray Rice, who’s banged up. A defense without an identity. Good thing John Harbaugh is a helluva coach.
16.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) (10) — Michael Vick had another outstanding offensive game (guy in my fantasy league has him AND Peyton Manning, as if that’s fair). As did DeSean Jackson. But that defense gave up a boatload of points, that’s what would concern me moving forward. Really excited for Thursday’s game against the Chiefs, ya know, that team coached by Andy Reid.
15.) San Diego Chargers (1-1) (23) — The Chargers are one of those teams who should be undefeated, but alas, they’ve looked much better than most expected to start. Philip Rivers seems to have fixed what’s been ailing him the last two seasons. Still without a run game, he’s really doing it all on his own. To beat an Eagles team on the road in the early east coast game was damn impressive.
14.) Dallas Cowboys (1-1) (7) — Dallas has never lost a game when DeMarco Murray rushes 20-or-more times, but yet he only had 12 carries in Week 2 after 21 in Week 1; a win. We’ll see if he gets the rock this Sunday. Nice of Dez Bryant have himself a game, and you can see how he can affect a game when he’s ballin’. Also another good game from that Cowboys defense.
13.) Tennessee Titans (1-1) (20) — It’s crazy to think about a team like Tennessee, which everyone was writing off heading into the season, is a play away from being 2-0. Chris Johnson has 50 carries through the first two games and appears to be his old self. Jake Locker isn’t playing competently, and this defense appears tough, despite giving up the lead to Houston.
12.) Miami Dolphins (2-0) (18) — Maybe I should’ve kept Mike Wallace in fantasy after all, as dude blew up to help the Dolphins to a surprise start and take out the Colts on the road. Now they head home and host the Falcons with a chance to lead the AFC East for the first time since they won the division back in 2008. Warren Sapp said Lauren Tannehill’s husband was going to break Dan Marino’s team passing record and he’s on his way.
11.) Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) (17) — We kinda figured the Jaguars weren’t that good, so it was tough to judge just what we had with the Chiefs after Week 1, but after a Week 2 home win against Dallas, I’m a Chiefs believer. Alex Smith has been solid, the defense is flying around, and Jamaal Charles is running hard. I’m happy for Andy Reid and all the rib places in K.C.
10.) Atlanta Falcons (1-1) (6) — Matt Ryan is ballin’ out of control right now, but the big question is can his line keep the $100M man upright, especially now that Steven Jackson is out a couple weeks with a soft tissue injury. Roddy White’s health is a concern but if he can get healthy and Tony Gonzalez keeps playing his way into shape, there’s no stopping this offense.
9.) Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) (4) — I still need to see more out of Andy Dalton. He missed some easy throws Monday night against Pittsburgh but that defense was strong and Gio Bernard looked like a mini-Ray Rice out there. That Bengals defense is stingy, too. Pacman is playing some solid corner. Oh, and I know they won and dropped a few places, but that an adjustment since I had them over-rated a bit last week.
8.) New England Patriots (2-0) (5) — You know what, if I was Tom Brady, and believe me, I’ve thought about what that would be like, I’d be yelling too at everyone on the sideline, in the stands, on Twitter, if my receivers dropped balls like his did. Julian Edelman is the Patriots No. 1 option. Think about that for a second. Go ahead. I’ll wait … if you’re a Patriots fan, I’d be worried. Unbeaten or not.
7.) Houston Texans (2-0) (11) — What was the stat I saw, the Texans are the first team in NFL history to win their first two games of a season on the last play of the game. Think about that, and the handful of teams who could have their records reversed if one or two things went differently. Matt Schaub looks good so far and DeAndre Hopkins looks like the real deal after this game-winning TD grab (possibly the lone bright spot on my fantasy squad?). And not sure if you saw J.J. Watt on “The League” the last two weeks, but pretty hilarious stuff. As always.
6.) New Orleans Saints (2-0) (12) — The Saints had the worst defense in the NFL last season and so that led Marshall Faulk to make a bold prediction that they would be Top 5 by the end of the year. Currently, after two games, they are 11th. Subsequently, they are undefeated. These two items are not unrelated.
5.) Green Bay Packers (1-1) (8) — You think Aaron Rodgers was sick of hearing about all these young quarterbacks taking over the league? Especially when one of them was coming to his house? How’s almost 400 yards in the first half taste? Granted, me, Rich and Law and a few of the other NFL Media folks could probably score 30 on the Redskins, but damn, Aaron Rodgers can sling it. Now, the Pack just needs to play some defense and this is once again a legit Super Bowl contender.
4.) San Francisco 49ers (1-1) (1) — It’s safe to say none of us saw that Sunday night stinkfest coming out of the 49ers. That was a beatdown to the Nth degree. Anquan Boldin was held to one catch after turning the clock way back in Game 1 and Colin Kaepernick looked nothing like the superstar he showed himself to be against the Packers. It’s also worth nothing that no one wins in Seattle, so I wouldn’t be too worried.
3.) Chicago Bears (2-0) (9) — Could this really be the new Jay Cutler? Not getting sacked, throwing game-winning TD passes and generally acting like the opposite of the football player we know him to be. We’ve seen this act before out of the Bears; fast start, looking like a playoff team, then Cutler gets hurt and Bears fall apart. I wanna see some consistency. A win against Pittsburgh would be a nice proving ground.
2.) Denver Broncos (2-0) (2) — Wait. Peyton Manning just threw another touchdown pass. He’s pretty good.
1.) Seattle Seahawks (2-0) (3) — If Seattle gets homefield in the NFC, it’s going to the Super Bowl. There’s no bones about it. The Seahawks can’t lose there. When it’s that loud and Beast Mode is running like he’s on a Skittles high and First Name Russell, Last Name Wilson is throwing darts and the Legion of Boom is lowering the hammer. Shoot. No wonder Pete Carroll is always smiling.
LOS ANGELES — Wow. What a Week 1 in the National. Football. League. Hey, what do you think Ryan Seacrest? Cool. Seriously, though, it had stunning plays, fantastic finishes and rousing introductions to the league, it’s hard to believe we went seven months without football. Seriously, it’s almost as if the epic Super Bowl 46 and Ray Lewis’s final cry were an eternity ago, and combine that with what seemed like an offseason cloud that would never lift. But lift it has, and the 2013 NFL season couldn’t be off to a more amazing start.
When I last left you here at the “You’re The Man” rankings back in February, I asked questions each team should be thinking about heading into the offseason, along with their final rankings. Now, as we head into Week 2, I’m going to give you their rank along with how they answered my question plus one more to think about as we embark on 22 weeks of pure football bliss.
As always, these are scientifically proven and 100% accurate. Now let’s find out who’s The Man.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (2013 record: 0-1) (2012 final YTM ranking: 32) — Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t get paid and Shad Khan didn’t bring in Tim Tebow, which means you can bet MoJo will be doing the Eisen Podcast End Zone Dance for another team next year while Blaine Gabbert continues to throw interceptions for the worst dressed team in the NFL. Seriously, how bad are those helmets? Burning Question: How do they get worse? Honestly, what do they do for an encore, sign that 9-year old girl from the YouTube videos last year to return kicks? Wait, that might actually work.
31.) Cleveland Browns (0-1) (26) — Brandon Weeden has some great AARP insurance because it guaranteed him the starting job this season, and would you believe the help he and Trent Richardson were seeking actually came? Maybe it’s because I watched two Browns preseason games and they looked above average, or maybe I got drunk listening to Bernie Kosar during the broadcasts. Burning Question: Every year there’s a team that surprises, could the Browns be this team?
30.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) (16) — If you want to stop explosive passing offenses you go out and trade for a guy like Darrelle Revis. Or you just go get the man himself. Now, whether or not he’s 100% healthy is another question, but in the NFC South, the Bucs are the only team who improved defensively. That’s a start. Burning Question: Josh Freeman was all over the map in Week 1; if Tampa Bay wants to be a player, he needs to be consistent and consistently great. Jury’s out.
29.) Oakland Raiders (0-1) (30) — Well, it’s always nice to start the column off with a correct prediction, like I did in accurately guessing Carson Palmer would be let go in favor of Terrelle Pryor. What I didn’t anticipate is Matt Flynn crapping down his pants in the process after being given the keys to the… wait, what kind of car would the Raiders be? I’m thinking the burnt out minivan Thomas Kubb has to drive at the end of “Project X” (awesome movie). But hey, at least he had wheels. Burning Question: At what point this season will Darren McFadden just say “eff it” and stop showing up for work? Week 6? 10? 2?
28.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) (15) — The Steelers thought they found some running help, then Le’veon Bell got hurt and is out six weeks. Now, their most important offensive player not named Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season, after Maurkice Pouncey’s knee injury in Week 1 vs. Tennessee. Burning Question: A team without an identity heading into the season, Pittsburgh’s back is against the wall immediately. What team will emerge from the smoke as the season rolls on?
27.) Carolina Panthers (0-1) (17) — So the Panthers went out and kept their roster basically the same as 2012 and what happened, Cam Newton had his lowest total yardage output of his career in Week 1. I don’t think this is a coincidence. Burning Question: This is something to monitor as the beginning of the season moves on, because Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger and faster.
26.) New York Jets (1-0) (27) — Turns out Mark Sanchez got irrevocably broken sooner than I anticipated. But for the second year in a row, the Jets did Sanchez dirty (see what I did there) by bringing in another quarterback while at the same time pledging he was the man. He’s never been the man. Ask me point blank and I can’t tell you why I feel bad for Sanchez, I just do. He didn’t deserve all this. He could’ve been a fine NFL backup for a dozen years. Sadly, I think he’s out of the league in two. Burning Question: How exactly will Rex Ryan go down? Will it be guns blazin’ “Desperado” style? Will it be quietly in his sleep? Will there be a bloody horse head? Will he choke on a Krispy Kreme? I just hope it’s broadcast live on NFL Network.
25.) Minnesota Vikings (0-1) (12) — It’s almost as if the Vikings read my column back in February, because they went out and signed Greg Jennings and drafted Cordarrelle Patterson to be pass catchers for Christian Ponder. But in Week 1 they were hardly effective. And after a 78-yard jaunt on his first play, Adrian Peterson was held to 17 yards on 15 carries. Get used to this, Vikings fans. Burning Question: It’s still all about Ponder for the Vikings. If he can develop and make teams respect the pass attack, this will be continue to be a playoff team.
24.) Buffalo Bills (0-1) (23) — The Bills were 7 seconds away from beating the Patriots, and the Dolphins took care of Cleveland in Week 1, which means Bills fans have something to be encouraged by. However, CJ Spiller was held in check and failed to show anything really of what made people think last season he could be a superstar in this league. EJ Manuel, however, now there’s something Bills fans should be encouraged by. Burning Question: Will Manuel be the guy this season and make Buffalo forget about Fitz, Trend Edwards, Rob Johnson, and all the other jamokes it trotted out behind center since No. 12 hung ’em up?
23.) San Diego Chargers (0-1) (22) — Do you think Norv Turner watched the Monday night game? Let’s say that he did. What do you think his range of emotions were? Kinda like Deb on “Dexter” I’m guessing. In the end, Norv got the last laugh after the Chargers choked away what would’ve been a pretty big statement win to start the year. Now who do you blame? Philip Rivers? Burning Question: Will Manti Te’o get himself a real-life girlfriend this year? I hope that’s reported on to no end like we all did his fake one.
22.) Arizona Cardinals (0-1) (28) — Bruce Arians decided on his quarterback and the name he pulled out of his Kangol hat was Carson Palmer. I’ll let you make your own joke. I actually think the Blonde Bomber could have a big season and no, he didn’t pay me to say that. Burning Question: Will we see the Larry Fitzgerald of old this year or did the year’s of gawd-awful quarterbacking suck the superstar blood from his veins?
21.) St. Louis Rams (1-0) (21) — Tavon Austin might not be a huge, household name as we head into Week 2, but it was a splash, and a potentially explosive one for Sam Bradford and that Rams offense. Austin wasn’t showcased at all in the preseason and exactly how he’ll be used is something everyone is watching for. Burning Question: Is Sam Bradford going to finally show he was worth of that #1 pick back in 2010?
20.) Tennessee Titans (1-0) (25) — The Titans kept Chris Johnson and his 1,200 yards around this year and people are predicting a comeback season for CJ. Looking at his stats, he’s never had a sub-1,000 yard season, which is pretty amazing. You wonder how much he has left in that tank. Burning Question: What will the Titans get out of Jake Locker this season and can he be a franchise quarterback?
19.) Detroit Lions (1-0) (24) — I don’t think anyone on the Lions got arrested this offseason (though league-wide odds would say otherwise) so that’s a good start, but this team is still full of knuckleheads and it begins with the head coach. Burning Question: Matthew Stafford got a boatload of cash this offseason for his 17 career wins; does he improve from the chubby gunslinger to elite status to carry his team?
18.) Miami Dolphins (1-0) (20) — The Dolphins went and out signed Steelers big-play receiver Mike Wallace to catch the ball from Lauren Tannehill’s husband but that didn’t stop No. 11 from saying the media should “ask the coach” after the game as to why he wasn’t more involved in the offense. Uh oh. Burning Question: Do they have enough defense to stop the Patriots and win the AFC East?
17.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) (31) — Here’s the funny thing, even I’ve talked myself into being a Chiefs fan. I’m almost ready to pick them to win the AFC West. Unlike most, I don’t think Denver can repeat 2012 and San Diego/Oakland are completely inept. Burning Question: How much weight will Andy Reid put on this season? OK, a serious question: will Jamaal Charles carry the ball on consecutive plays?
16.) Indianapolis Colts (1-0) (9) — The Colts picked up right up where 2012 left off, meaning Andrew Luck had to lead them from behind to victory, against the hapless Raiders, no less. Indy didn’t get any better on defense so look for Luck to have a lot of games like Week 1. Burning Question: Peyton Manning made a huge leap in his second year in the league; can Luck do the same and a repeat playoff berth as well?
15.) Washington Redskins (0-1) (10) — In the first half against the Eagles, it looked as if My Good Friend Robert hadn’t run or played football in quite some time; which he hadn’t. He either a) shouldn’t have been out there or b) should’ve played some in the preseason. His health is paramount. Burning Question: Will Robert stay quiet this season (the opposite of his M.O. this offseason) and let his superb play do the talking?
14.) Baltimore Ravens (0-1) (1) — It isn’t exactly clear who replaced Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Dannell Ellerbe, or even Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin, but they still have the hardware and every team this year is going to give the Ravens their best. That is a fact. Burning Question: When the Ravens get behind in games, much like they did in Week 1, who is going to be their go-to guy to bring them back? Bueller?
13.) New York Giants (0-1) (14) — As it turns out, consistency is not for sale at any price, though Tom Coughlin probably wishes there was a price tag attached so he would at least know what it might cost him. You saw the famed Giants roller coaster on full display Sunday night in Week 1 vs. the Cowboys. Six, count ’em, six turnovers but yet there they were, a final drive touchdown away from victory. Get used to it. Burning Question: In the wake of Andre Brown’s injury and David Wilson pissing down his leg for the second straight season opener, what will New York do at running back to compliment Eli Manning? ‘Cause they have to do SOMEthing.
12.) New Orleans Saints (1-0) (19) — The Saints were DFL in the NFL in defense last season and hired Rob Ryan to make them less sucky. So far, so good, holding the explosive Falcons to 17 points in a huge Week 1 win. Hey, when you hit rock bottom, there’s only two ways to go: straight up or sideways. Burning Question: Will New Orleans consistently be able to stop teams so that Drew Brees doesn’t have to score 40 a game to win?
11.) Houston Texans (8) (1-0) — There’s no boost to the secondary like adding the words “Ed” and “Reed,” however you’d like to get the Ed Reed that was making Pro Bowls and winning Super Bowls, not the one who looks better in a tux at the Oscars Red Carpet with me. Unfortunately, that’s who the Texans have at the moment. Who knows when Ed is going to play again, because he sure doesn’t. Burning Question: Could this be the beginning of the end for Arian Foster? Simmons threw out Larry Johnson’s name in his Cousin Sal podcast and it doesn’t seem that far off given how Monday night played out.
10.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) (29) — Not only did Chip Kelly stick with Michael Vick, but after watching what a disaster Geno Smith has turned into with the Jets, I’m sure Mr. Hurry-Up is doubly glad he didn’t trade his whole draft away to get him. This new college-style offense seems tailor made for Vick, who is flying under the radar as someone who could have a potential monster season (OK, I’m talking myself into him after drafting him in my 5th fantasy league). 2013 Burning Question: When will the first column be written saying “I told you so” about Chip’s offense never being able to work in the NFL?
9.) Chicago Bears (1-0) (13) — It seems as if the Bears are going to replace Brian Urlacher with an even better version of 2012’s Peanut Tillman. It took him all of 15 minutes to have two forced turnovers. Though rookie MLB Jon Bostic looks as if he could be the real deal. Burning Question: As always, the onus is on Jay Cutler to lead this team and be the new face of the franchise. Whether he can do it is a whole other red hot question.
8.) Green Bay Packers (0-1) (7) — Green Bay didn’t get younger or faster on defense and guess what happened? Colin Kaepernick torched them again. Oops. Packers/49ers is turning into one awesome rivalry. Burning Question: Will Aaron Rodgers score enough points this season to render the inept Green Bay defense unnecessary?
7.) Dallas Cowboys (1-0) (18) — Dallas brought in Monte Kiffin to call the defense and Bill Callahan to call the offense, leaving head coach Jason Garrett to supervise and ya know, be the head coach. While try as they might to lose it, a Week 1 win against the rival Giants is a good start. Still, gotta be weary of Tony Romo’s bruised ribs. Burning Question: Will Dez Bryant be the all-world guy we saw the last 8 weeks of last season or the dog of the first 9?
6.) Atlanta Falcons (0-1) (3) — You want to know how the Falcons improved on defense? They let John Abraham and Brent Grimes walk, and signed Osi Umenyiora. That’s it. Not sure how they stop the 49ers and Seahawks with that, let alone the Saints, Cowboys or Packers. Burning Question: Can Matt Ryan complete 4th and Goal to advance to the Super Bowl? Because Arthur Blank sure has hell didn’t pay him serious Home Depot money not to.
5.) New England Patriots (1-0) (4) — The Patriots did sign a receiver this offseason. That is a fact. They did not sign a big-play corner guy (Aqib Talib re-signed) nor did they bring in a big-time rush end. Now, if you had Game 2 as the first Danny Amendola would miss, raise your hand. I see too many hands up. Maybe my roommate was right. Who knows what the Pats are gonna do this season. Burning Question: Who will emerge as the darkhorse offensive go-to guy, since it has to be someone?
4.) Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) (11) — If “Hard Knocks” star Jay Gruden uses his Week 1 gameplan for A.J. Green in the playoffs this time around, I’m guessing the Bengals will have a different result. Dude is a beast and could be better than Calvin Johnson this season. It’s just up to Gruden and Andy Dalton to get him the ball. Burning Question: How will the Bengals handle the title role of expected greatness?
3.) Seattle Seahawks (1-0) (5) — Despite the suspensions and notoriety the Seahawks got this offseason, I still stand by them being the most complete team in the NFL, though they’re not my pick to win the Super Bowl. I also can’t recall if they bolstered their offensive or defensive lines. Go Hawks! Burning Question: What will Percy Harvin look like when he returns to the team for the final month? Will he make an impact or will it not matter at that point?
2.) Denver Broncos (1-0) (6) — Wait. Peyton Manning just threw another touchdown pass. OK, back to the column… In other news, was I really that stupid to predict a Favre-in-2010-esque season for Manning this year? Jesus. No wonder I’ve never won the ROFFL championship. Burning Question: Will Rahim Moore be able to knock down a 2nd-and-72 Hail Mary?
1.) San Francisco 49ers (1-0) (2) — Oh, you want Colin Kaepernick to stand in the pocket and beat you? No problem. You didn’t think they had a deep threat with Michael Crabtree out? How’s Anquan Boldin doing these days? Forgot how awesome that defense was? How’s Aaron Rodgers feeling this week? Burning Question: As the tape grows on Kaepernick, will someone figure out a way to stop this kid, or will he continue to wreck the whole league?
Finally, we made our picks on the Rich Eisen Podcast last week and here’s who I said would take home individual crowns:
Passing Champion: Matthew Stafford, Lions
Rushing Champion: Doug Martin, Buccaneers
Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick, Patriots
MVP: Tom Brady, Patriots
Super Bowl: Patriots vs. Falcons
LOS ANGELES — Whenever NFL Network airs old episodes of “Hard Knocks,” no matter the team, I always tune in. In addition to being fantastically produced by the NFL Films team, they are hilarious to watch with the benefit of hindsight. When the Jets cut little Danny Woodhead in 2010 you had no idea he would turn into this all-world, do-everything back for the Patriots. Nearly three years later, after New York has proven to be the buffoons of the league, the move is even more laughable. Watching the Dolphins last summer you never got the impression they would ever sniff the .500 mark or be a competent football team; you were too busy waiting patiently for any scene with Lauren Tannehill. In 2009, Chad Johnson looked like a lock for Cooperstown and his career faded quicker than the yellow enshrinee jacket. And on and on.
So, with less than 3 months until the 2013 season begins – the Hall of Fame Game between the Miami and Dallas is on Aug. 4 – here’s my wish list for teams for this upcoming season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” (in no particular order).
Washington Redskins: They have the most dynamic young player in the league who just so happens to be coming off a horrific knee injury in Robert Griffin III, a squirrelly coach in Mike Shanahan, an owner who likes to meddle and flash his deep pockets, and a rabid, rabid fan base thirsty for a winner again. What’s not to like here?!
Seattle Seahawks: Football is back on the Pacific northwest and the Seahawks have a dynamic, rah-rah coach in Pete Carroll and some explosive players (Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice) to go with their charismatic young quarterback, Russell Wilson. Throw in the big mouth of Richard Sherman and the rest of the Boom Squad and this would be a very, very fun season of Hard Knocks.
Atlanta Falcons: I was pulling for them to be the choice last season, as the Falcons were a team on the rise, a thought confirmed as they were a play away from the Super Bowl. This time around is no different. Tony Gonzalez, the greatest pass-catching tight end of all-time, is back for a final season. Matt Ryan is one of the top quarterbacks in the league, Mike Smith looks like an extra on “The Sopranos,” Roddy White is among the chattiest in the league, Julio Jones as well; not to mention Brian Banks and his struggle to get back his football life.
Arizona Cardinals: Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I think the Cardinals would be extremely entertaining over four weeks of Training Camp. Bruce Arians and his Kangol hats would bound for laughs, Larry Fitzgerald is among the worldly NFL players, Patrick Peterson, the Honey Badger, not to mention Carson Palmer and his old tired arm and perfect hair. Sounds good to me.
New England Patriots: Yes, this is a homer pick, but who wouldn’t want to see exactly how Bill Belichick and Tom Brady perform their magic; to go behind the curtain with a 3-time Super Bowl Champion as they gear up for another AFC-dominating campaign. I know I would, and if you’re honest with yourself, you are, too.
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers is the NFL James Bond and is now paid like a Sultan, same goes for Clay Matthews, who now has enough cashola to have a room full of FatHeads of himself. Throw in Mike McCarthy, the people of Green Bay, the young and exciting Randall Cobb, and you have the recipe for entertainment.
Philadelphia Eagles: This one makes a lot of sense. You got a rookie head coach with a pretty high profile in Chip Kelly and the hype surrounding his new offense, of course there’s Michael Vick and the “dynasty” comments he’s made in recent offseasons, add in the outspoken DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, the fans who would be bound to call into local radio to complain about the show, and I can’t see how this wouldn’t be a hit.
Buffalo Bills: A bit of a sleeper here, but think about it: Stevie Johnson is the new Chad Johnson right down to the game to back it up, they have a rookie quarterback learning the NFL game in surprise-First-Round-pick E.J. Manuel, a rookie head coach with a larger than life personality and enthusiasm for life in Doug Marrone. I’m guessing C.J. Spiller will wear a bunch of outrageous outfits, Marcel Dareus will do something ridiculous and they’ll eat a lot of wings. I hope.
San Diego Chargers: Two words: Manti Te’o.