2010 NFL Training Camp Report – August 2nd (Part 2)

 2010 NFL Training Camp Report – August 2nd (Part 2)

NFL Insider Lloyd Vance talks about the top stories from 2010 NFL Training Camps with host Mark Gray including Dallas Cowboys WR Miles Austin’s new girlfriend

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The Cowboys re-tender WR Miles Austin by Lloyd Vance

Cowboys WR Miles Austin may soon be entering Brandon Marshall’s pay level

Recently the Dallas Cowboys re-issued their restricted free agent tender offer to unsigned wide receiver Miles Austin — worth $3.168 million.  Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has smartly said that his organization wants to work out a long-term deal for Austin, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2009 while establishing career highs in receptions (81), yards (1,320) and touchdowns (11).

In my opinion, even though the Cowboys already have pass catchers WR Sam Hurd, WR Patrick Crayton, WR Roy Williams, and TE Jason Witten under contract plus drafting Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant too (1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft) it would be behoove them to get the 25-year old emerging star locked-up.  The former special teamer turned No. 1 receiver was one of the main reasons that Dallas scored 361 points in 2009, set a team single-season mark with 6,390 total net yards and won their first playoff game since 1996.

Austin led the NFL with 8 receiving touchdowns of 20+ yards and he also joined former Cowboys’ greats Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens in the team’s 1,250+ receiving yards in season club. The former Monmouth star, like all other restricted free agents, will have until June 15 to sign his tender. If Austin doesn’t sign, by that date the Cowboys could cut his salary to $1.65 million.

Other prominent restricted free agents recently receiving a second tender offer included: Cardinals OG Deuce Lutui, Vikings DE Ray Edwards, and Packers safety Atari Bigby.

2010 NFL Restricted Free Agent Notes

Here is a team-by-team look at their remaining unsigned restricted free agents along with the RFA’s tender information. 

The Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, SF 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and St. Louis Rams don’t have any unsigned RFA’s entering 2010 training camp.

Arizona Cardinals 

Deuce Lutui, G, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.1705M

Baltimore Ravens 

Jared Gaither, T, three (3) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.396M; Reduced Tender Amount: $506,000; Difference: $1.89M

Le’Ron McClain, RB, three (3) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.396M; Reduced Tender Amount: $506,000; Difference: $1.89M

Dawan Landry, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.111M; Difference: $648,000

Carolina Panthers 

Thomas Davis, LB, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.268M; Reduced Tender Amount: $2.42M; Difference: $848,000

Richard Marshall, CB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.17M

Cleveland Browns 

Abram Elam, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.265M; Difference: $494,000

Jerome Harrison, RB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.1705M

D’Qwell Jackson, LB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $704,000; Difference: $1.055M

Matt Roth, LB, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.809M; Reduced Tender Amount: $770,000; Difference: $1.039M

Lawrence Vickers, FB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.1705M

Dallas Cowboys 

Miles Austin, WR, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.6995M; Difference: $1.4685M

Denver Broncos

Elvis Dumervil, LB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $2.5795M

Green Bay Packers

Atari Bigby, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.6995M; Difference: $59,500

Johnny Jolly, DE, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.521M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.9325M

Tramon Williams, CB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.043M; Reduced Tender Amount: $577,500; Difference: $2.4655M

Houston Texans

Owen Daniels, TE, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $3.0712M; Difference: $96,800

Indianapolis Colts

Antoine Bethea, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.521M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.9325M

Kansas City Chiefs

Jarrad Page, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.6995M; Difference: $59,500

Miami Dolphins

Ronnie Brown, RB, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $3.969M; Reduced Tender Amount: Not Applicable – Tender amount already 110% of 2009 base salary

Anthony Fasano, TE, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Original Round, $1.176M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $587,500

Minnesota Vikings

Ray Edwards, DE, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.521M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.111M; Difference: $1.41M

New England Patriots

Logan Mankins, G, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.268M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.54M; Difference: $1.728M

New Orleans Saints

Jammal Brown, OT, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.619M; Reduced Tender Amount: Not Applicable – Tender amount already 110% of 2009 base salary

Roman Harper, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.521M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.9325M

Lance Moore, WR, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.6995M; Difference: $59,500

Pierre Thomas, RB, three (3) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.684M; Reduced Tender Amount: $506,000; Difference: $1.178M

San Diego Chargers

Malcolm Floyd, WR, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.6995M; Difference: $1.4685M

Vincent Jackson, WR, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.268M; Reduced Tender Amount: $682,000; Difference: $2.586M

Marcus McNeill, OT, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $2.5975M

Shawne Merriman, LB, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.269M; Reduced Tender Amount: Not Applicable – Tender amount already 110% of 2009 base salary

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Donald Penn, OT, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $3.0712M; Difference: $96,800

Tennessee Titans

LB Stephen Tulloch, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.521M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.9325M

Washington Redskins

Rocky McIntosh, LB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.1705M

Carlos Rogers, CB, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Original Round, $1.542M

Reduced Tender Amount: Not Applicable – Tender amount already 110% of 2009 base salary

 

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Trade for Roy Williams looking like a colossal mistake for Cowboys

In baseball everyone remembers bad trades like the 1990 deal where the Boston Red Sox traded future star Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros for aging setup man Larry Anderson.  But the NFL has also seen its fair share of one sided trades throughout the league’s 90-year existence.  To name a few doozy’s that some fans will want to remember and some forget:  Cowboys trading RB Herschel Walker (along with 1 other player and picks) to the Vikings for 4 players and 8 picks including 3 first-rounders that led directly to Dallas winning 3 Super Bowls, Colts trading future Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to the St. Louis Rams for 2nd and 5th round picks in the 1999 draft and the Redskins trading underachieving DT Sean Gilbert to the Carolina Panthers for first round picks in 1999 and 2000.

But after the 1-year anniversary and almost half of the 2009 season being completed, I am ready to add the infamous 2008 trade deadline deal that sent receiver Roy E.  Williams from Detroit to Dallas to the “One-sided NFL Trades” list. The trade’s details were  Williams (along with a 7rd pick) to the Dallas Cowboys and 1st Rd, 3rd Rd, and 6th Rd picks in the 2009 NFL Draft going to the Lions.   At the time of the trade in October of 2008, a lot of fans and media thought that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had swung a great deal for a possible No. 1 receiver and purchased some “T.O Insurance”.  But as the weeks on the NFL calendar pass, this trade is looking more like a colossal mistake by Dallas. 

Throughout the 2008 season, the Cowboys were growing tired of inconsistent aging receiver and lockerroom pariah Terrell Owens so Williams looked like the perfect motivational tool and possible replacement wrapped up in a 6’3, 215 package.   The Cowboys beat-out NFC East division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, in the race to grab Williams and Jones even handed the “perceived” superstar a brand new five-year contract extension worth $45 million, including more than $20 million guaranteed.  On his trade to Dallas Williams, who was a high school and college star in the state of Texas, said “I’m more happy to be a Dallas Cowboy than when I got my first bike”.  He added with a huge smile, “Going from 0-5 to 4-2, you can’t ask for anything better than that”.

It seemed like a great plan by the Cowboys to slowly acclimate Williams to their playbook and quarterback Tony Romo for the remainder of the 2008 season, then unleash him as their featured receiver in 2009, once Owens was jettisoned.  But the 27-year old former Texas Longhorn has proven to be an even bigger pain in the rear than Owens (averaged  78 catches, 1196 yards, and 13 TDs in 3 years with Dallas), because he has not produced on the field.  Of course everyone tacked Williams’ pedestrian 2008 numbers (19 catches for 198 yards, and 1 TD in 10 games and 7 starts) and being a non-factor as the Cowboys narrowly missed the playoff to a steep learning curve. 

But after spending over a year with the Cowboys including mini-camps, OTAs, training camp, and practices, Williams looks worse than ever.  He looks tentative in traffic, has dropped too many passes (just 12 catches on 30 targets — 40% catch rate), looks uninterested at times, and clearly has lost the confidence of a few of his teammates, namely Romo.  Through 6 games, Williams has 12 catches for 230 yards and 1 TD, which is nowhere near a featured receiver’s production.  In his defense, Williams has not been the same since being “blasted” over the middle (ribs) in the Cowboys 17-10 loss to Denver in Week 4.  But the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league and surprisingly for the Cowboys it has been formerly little known small-school receiver Miles Austin that has risen to the occasion of replacing T.O than big-ticket receiver Williams (career numbers: 262 catches for 3,884 yards and 29 TDs over a 6 years).

Austin has been one of the 2009 NFL season’s best stories rising from tiny Monmouth (NJ) College to making the NFL as a special teamer then finally getting his shot this season.  The tall (6’3) and fast (4.4) receiver burst on the scene in a Week 6 win over the Chiefs producing 10 catches for a franchise record 250 yards and 2 TDs (both 50-yard plus bombs).  Austin saved the Cowboys’ hides with a 60-yard tackle-breaking game-winning TD reception in overtime and became the 10th player in NFL history to record at least 10 catches, 250 yards and two touchdowns in a game.  Austin then proved the Chiefs’ game was no fluke as he looked like the second coming of Cowboys hall of famer Michael Irvin in a Week 7 win over the Atlanta Falcons (best six catches for 171 yards and 2 TDs).  Out of nowhere Austin and his eye-popping numbers (21 catches for 502 yards, 23.9 ypr average and 5 TDs) have moved former starter Patrick Crayton to the bench.  And almost everyone watching the Cowboys would agree that Austin and not Williams is Romo’s number #1 passing option.  Heck…many would argue that Williams is behind tight ends Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett too at this point.

For the Cowboys’ sake, hopefully Williams is just having a tough time learning to be the go-to-guy on a team that expects to win.  But for now his 1-time Pro Bowl player — 82 catches for 1,310 yards and seven touchdowns in 2006 for Detroit — is looking like he will never achieve that status again or be an impact player.  This season Williams’ production has slipped to averaging 2.4 receptions and 46 yards per game, which is astronomically down from his career highs of 5.6 and 81.9 in 2006.  If Williams doesn’t turn it around soon, he will join former Cowboys trade flameout WR Joey Galloway in the Cowboys annals as another receiver that Jerry Jones traded for with high expectations, but got little in return.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Season – Week 7 Review

benson

After a fantastic 189-yard”revengeful” performance against the Chicago Bears, Cincy RB Cedric Benson is Week 7’s  Game Ball winner

I will start with a “Cheerio” this week as the NFL returned to London, England for the third year in a row.  Unfortunately for the NFL’s English fans viewing our version of football, they were not treated to an entertaining game.  The New England Patriots (5-2), led by QB Tom Brady and WR Wes Welker, continued their dominating ways by disposing of the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-7 at sold-out Wembley Stadium — 17 consecutive games against NFC opponents, the longest streak of any team against the other conference since the 1970 merger.  With the 2009 “Own the Moment” season quickly nearing its halfway point, weekly fans are getting more clarity about who are the true “Contenders” and who are the “Pretenders”.  But Week 7 should have been called “Blowout Week” around the NFL as 6 teams lost by 20 points or more and 11 teams won by 10 points or more. 

However despite the ever-increasing number of blowouts in an NFL world where anyone can see the Grand Canyon sized divide between the  “Have’s” and “Have Nots” (after 7 weeks of play there  are three undefeated teams – Colts, Broncos, and Saints and  three winless teams – Rams, Titans, and Bucs) there were a few match-ups that lived up to their hype.  With only two divisional grudges on this week’s slate, the highlight of Week 7 had to be the 8 inter-conference games pitting the AFC and NFC, where conference bragging rights were at stake. After the dust settled it was the AFC, once again, that dominated the NFC with 6 wins and 2 losses.  The AFC’s dominance this week, held true a distinct pattern that we have seen this decade.  Despite the New York Giants winning in 2007, clearly the AFC has picked up their collective games as they have won all but two Super Bowl titles (other NFC title was the Buccaneers in 2002).  The AFC has the Indianapolis Colts led by Robo-Quarterback Peyton Manning seem to win 12 games every year (beat-up on the winless Rams this week), the Patriots who have won 3 Super Bowl titles this decade (thumped the Bucs in London, England) and the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers (ended the Vikings winning streak this week).

Even though two of the three big AFC franchises stumbled early (Steelers and Patriots), you knew they would get back in the race at the top of the NFL and they have so far.  The AFC’s Big 3 is almost always in the mix come playoff time and do not expect anything different this season.  Each team has a quality quarterbacks making timely throws, solid running games providing balance, and attacking defenses who turn turnovers into points.  The Steelers won their 4th straight game, this time disposing of one of the NFC’s two unbeatens (Steelers 27, Vikings 17). The Steelers fueled by their resurging defense – wonder if the return of Troy “The Hair” Polamalu has anything to do with it – bent but didn’t break in their victory that put the first “L” on the Vikings (outgained Pittsburgh 386-259, but only scored 10 Points offensively).  Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s defenders were able to stop Vikings QB Brett Favre (34 of 51, 334 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT), All-World RB Adrian Peterson, emerging receiver Sidney Rice, and the rest Vikes offense deep in Pittsburgh territory when it mattered most – 3 big defensive stands. 

The Steelers were able to turn back Peterson 3 times (from the half-yard line) on a crucial early game goalline stand that left the score 13-10 in favor of the home team.  But the two biggest game-changing plays happened when the 2008 Super Bowl champs needed it most, especially with their offense sputtering at times.  Other a short Peterson touchdown run, there no passing touchdowns and easily the Vikings biggest play was a Percy Harvin 88-yd kickoff return.  Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley’s 77-yard fumble touchdown return after Favre was stripped in the 3rd quarter and LB Keyaron Fox’s 82-yard interception touchdown return of a Favre dump-off pass late in the 4th quarter were the keys in ending any of the venerable quarterback’s comeback magic this week. Favre said after his team’s first loss of 2009, “There were a lot of what ifs, a lot of reasons we didn’t win, the red zone was one of them. (The Steelers) are physical, and they were as good as we thought they’d be”.  The Steelers held Peterson to only 69 rushing yards – 25th straight game without allowing a 100-yard rusher – produced 3 turnovers, and kept Favre out of the endzone for the 1st time this year in the win.

Even in a weekend of AFC dominance, one NFC team continues to “March On” and that is the NFC South leading New Orleans Saints.  The Saints continued the best start in their franchise’s history by beating the Dolphins in a thrilling comeback as they increased their record to 6-0.  Brees and the unbeaten Saints fell behind for the first time all season, then overcame a 21-point deficit Sunday to beat the Dolphins 46-34 (biggest comeback in franchise history). The NFL’s highest-scoring team topped 40 points for the fourth time (most since 1950) and outscored the Dolphins 22-0 in the fourth quarter to seal a crucial road victory.  Brees, who have looked like a miniature version of Johnny Unitas at times this year, had his worst game of the season – 3 INTs, a lost fumble and five sacks — but it didn’t matter as the Saints won again.

Brees this week used his legs rushing for 2 TDs including a crucial quarterback sneak at the end of the first half that cut the score to 24-10 in favor of the Dolphins.  To their credit, the Saints’ staff made the right adjustments at halftime that eventually won them the game.  “It can be a season-defining win,” linebacker Scott Shanle said. “This was a test we hadn’t faced yet, and we couldn’t be happier with the way we responded.”  Brees was not the only hero of the game as their Saints defense produced the stops that allowed their offense to comeback.  After a first half where the “Wildcat” was running wild (for the game, America’s most talked about formation netted 30 yards on 14 plays), the Saints dug in and limited the Dolphins to only 10 second-half points.  The Saints biggest play happened early in the 3rd quarter when Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper (NFL leading 6 INTs) scored on an interception return for the third time this season. The 42-yard INT to the ‘House came after Sharper took a deflected from Dolphins WR Ted Ginn Jr.

The Saints defense preserved the win for New Orleans finest too as CB Tracy Porter picked off a Chad Henne pass and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown with just under 2 minutes remaining.  Miami’s RB Ricky Williams, who had 3 TDs, said of the loss the NFC’s best team, “This was our game to win, we fought and we fought. They just fought harder at the end.” Everyone knows that it is too early to make season long assertions right now. But New Orleans has shown week in and week out that they are a tough team with a lot of weapons offensively and defensively.  I can tell you, they have made a believer out of this one-time naysayer.  I cannot wait for the Saints to host the Patriots in Week 12.

Here are some Lloyd’s Leftovers for this week before we go to the awards.

New Colts’ head coach is the real deal — Rookie head coach Jim Caldwell has led the Colts to a 5-0 start this season.  With a Colts win on Sunday against St. Louis Rams, the Colts improved to 6-0 and Caldwell tied the mark for the best start by a rookie head coach since 1970.  Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels already tied the mark on Monday night in the Broncos’ 34-23 victory over the San Diego Chargers.  With wins in Week 8, Caldwell and McDaniels can break a tie with former head coaches Chuck Knox, Red Miller, and Mike Martz.

Titans owner wants to see Vince Young now — Though the hapless Titans were on a bye this week, their owner Bud Adams made it clear he wants Vince Young to replace Kerry Collins now.  Adams, 86, has always been in Young’s corner and may be giving head coach Jeff Fisher a mandate. Fisher would not commit to Collins (completing 54.8 % of passes with 5 TDs and 8 INTs) at his press conference Monday — the first time he’s wavered on the decision all year. Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Young, who counts $14.2M against next year’s salary cap, will get his chance against the Jaguars on Sunday. The third overall pick of the 2006 draft, Young went 18-11 in 29 starts over his first three seasons, but he’s been the backup since suffering a knee injury in the second half of the Sept. 9, 2008 game (2008 season opener) against the Jaguars. “I have been wanting (Fisher) to play Vince Young more because Collins has been having his problems out there,” Adams said. “I just think we need to find out how well (Young) can do.

Tough Injury Loss for the Jets — Mercurial Jets RB Leon Washington broke his leg (fibula) in a blowout win over the Oakland Raiders.  The Jets will probably place Washington on IR and they will need 3 players (rookie Shonn Greene, Brad Smith, and Danny Woodhead) to replace the variety of skills that he offers to the team.  Other key injuries around the NFL were Eagles RB Brian Westbrook (concussion), Steelers DE Travis Kirschke (calf), Redskins TE Chris Cooley (broken foot –season), Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons (high ankle), Colts RB Donald Brown (shoulder), Vikings WR Bernard Berrian (left leg), Saints DT Sedrick Ellis (sprained right knee), Dolphins CB Will Allen (ACL- season),  Niners ILB Takeo Spikes (sprained right shoulder), Colts WR Reggie Wayne (strained groin), Redskins QB Jason Campbell (sprained ankle), Giants TE Kevin Boss (stiff neck), Texans WR Andre Johnson (chest contusion) and Rams CB Bradley Fletcher (torn ligaments in right knee – season).

Nice road ahead for the Arizona Cardinals – After their tough 24-17 win over the NY Giants on Sunday Night Football, the road back to playoffs is a favorable one for Ken Whisenhunt’s team.  Only two of the Cardinals’ 10 remaining games are against teams with winning records. Their next five opponents – Carolina Panthers (2-4), Chicago Panthers (3-3) , Seattle Seahawks (2-4), St. Louis Rams (0-7) and Tennessee Titans (0-7) — are a combined 7-24.

Hey Raiders do you want a re-do on that pick – In his first action since ending his 71-day holdout, Niners first-round WR Michael Crabtree played a ton his team’s close loss to the Houston Texans.  Crabtree was in for 48 of 54 of the Niners’ plays and had five catches for 56 yards in his NFL debut.  Conversely Raiders WR Darius Heyward-Bey (7th overall pick), who was taken three spots ahead of Crabtree by noted need for speed aficionado Al Davis, only has 7 catches for 64 yards and 0 TDs plus at least four drops through 7 games.

Game Balls

Cincinnati Bengals RB Cedric Benson – “Revenge” is a dish best served cold and that is exactly what Benson gave the Chicago Bears.  After accusing Bears management (GM Jerry Angelo and head coach Lovie Smith) of bad-mouthing him out the door, Benson took matters into his own hands was spectacular in the Bengals surprisingly easy 45-10 win over the reeling Bears.  The former Bears first round pick who was quickly jettisoned after a couple off the field incidents, regained his lead in the NFL rushing title race with a career-high 189 yards  on 37 carries and 1 TD.  The former University of Texas star seems on a Pro Bowl pace right now as he has rushing stats 164 carries for 720 yards (4.4 ypc) and 5 TDs.

Honorable Mention

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo — The Cowboys (4-2) continued their climb back in the NFC East divisional race with a dominating 37-21 home win over the Falcons – second straight win.  The main cog of the Cowboys’ offense was spectacular completing 21-of-29 passes for 311 yards and 3 TDs plus he added 31 yards on the ground.  Romo also seems to have his T.O replacement in emerging receiver Miles Austin.

Dallas Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware — The Cowboys defensive menace recorded two sacks Sunday in the ‘Boys win over the Falcons and now has 4 sacks for the season.  Ware finally seems comfortable rushing the passer again and the Cowboys rewarded his hard work by giving him a new six-year deal including $40M in guaranteed money.  The 6-4, 262-pound three-time Pro Bowl linebacker now has 57.5 quarterback sacks for his career.

Cincinnati Bengals QB Carson Palmer – While everyone was talking about the effort of RB Cedric Benson, Palmer “quietly” show that he is getting back to his old form in a big win over the Bears.  Palmer was pinpoint as he completed 20-of-24 passes for 233 yards and 5 TDs.

New England Patriots FS Brandon Meriweather – The former product of the “U” had two interceptions across the pond, including returning one for a touchdown in the Patriots’ 35-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Pittsburgh Steelers LT Max Starks — The Steelers strong tackle is finally meriting his big salary.  Starks held Vikings Pro Bowl DE Jared Allen to just one tackle and no sacks in the Steelers win over the Vikings.  Starks and his O-line mate also helped the Steelers produce a 5.3 YPC average in the running game.

SF 49ers QB Alex Smith – It was remember me time as the former first overall pick from 2005 shine after replacing starter Shaun Hill at halftime.  Smith responded by completing 15-of-22 passes for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns (all to emerging TE Vernon Davis) plus rallied the Niners from 21 points down.  Unfortunately the Niners came up short losing to the Houston Texans by a score 24-21.

Other Honorees: Steelers linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Keyaron Fox (scored 4th quarter touchdowns to drive the Steelers over the Vikings); Buffalo Bills Safety Jairus Byrd (two interceptions spurred the Bills to a surprising road win over the Panthers); New Orleans Saints PK John Carney (became the fourth NFL player to score 2,000 points in his career); Dallas Cowboys WR Miles Austin (showed that his 250-yard breakout at Kansas City in Week 5 was no fluke, by producing 171 yards and 2 TDs in the Cowboys win over the Falcons); Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb (reached career milestones 30,000 yards passing and 200 career touchdown passes in the Eagles win over the Redskins);Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (caught only two passes but had 69 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ 27-17 win over the Redskins.  Jackson also ran for a 67-yard touchdown and scored both Eagles’ offensive touchdowns); The NY Jets RB’s (led by rookie Shonn Greene’s 144 yards and 2 TDs, the Jets RB’s became the first NFL team since 1975 – Buffalo Bills — to rush for 300 yards in back-to-back games).

 Lloyd’s Lackey

Kansas City Chiefs RB Larry Johnson — Things just went from bad to worse for LJ in Kansas City.  The two- time NFL rushing leader and former workhorse has definitely slowed down since his heyday of about 4 to 5 years ago.  Time, off the field problems, and injuries have definitely caught up with him (30 on Nov. 19th). But the bigger story is that after another pedestrian effort (16 rushes for 49 yards with a long of 9 yards) on Sunday in a 37-7 loss to the Chargers, Johnson got on the offensive via Twitter against Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. Here are some of his excerpts: “my father got more credentials than most these pro coaches….google my father!!!”; “My father played for the coach from “remember the titans”. Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefly. Our coach. Nuthn”.  It is never a good idea to jump-on your head coach, but then LJ decided to call some reporters a bad word for homosexuals and Tweeted much more. Now NFL spokesman Greg Aiello revealed that the league is investigating LJ’s recent tirade on Twitter.  Plus the team basically told the volatile runner that he cannot practice and is not at their complex.  I don’t think it will be long before LJ is on the free agent running back scrap heap with older RB’s Warrick Dunn and Shaun Alexander. 

Dishonorable Mention

Dallas Cowboys WR Roy Williams – The former Detroit Lions first rounder returned to the line-up in Week 7 (rib injury) and produced 1 catch along with several drops.  Williams just doesn’t seem like he will ever live-up to the amount the Cowboys traded for him and now Miles Austin is clearly the team’s No. 1 receiver.  Williams has just 12 catches on 30 targets (40% catch rate) this season and looks like he is a colossal bust.

Oakland Raiders DE Richard Seymour – Predicted his team would make the playoffs after their “lucky’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles last week.  And the Raiders responded by getting shutout 35-0 by the NY Jets.

NY Jets QB Mark Sanchez – I know it was a snooze fest in a dominating 38-0 win over the Raiders, but did you really have to eat a hot dog with mustard on the sidelines.

Minnesota Vikings FB/TE Jeff Dugan – Unnecessarily ran down NFL Back Judge Richard Reels on Percy Harvin’s Kickoff for a touchdown in the 4th Quarter of the Steelers’ win.  Also Dugan had a bad tripping penalty near the goalline that negated a Brett Favre touchdown pass.

NY Giants rookie OT William Beatty – Playing in place of starter Kareem McKenzie (ended Giants O-line’s 38 consecutive starts streak), head coach Tom Coughlin gave Beatty mixed reviews.  The youngster from UConn was beat off the edge by Cardinals OLB Clark Haggans for a sack and also had a bad false-start penalty late in the fourth quarter.

Panthers QB Jake Delhomme – Was terrible in Carolina’s 20-9 home loss to the Buffalo Bills as he threw more 3 interceptions.  The former Super Bowl starter is now on pace to throw a mind-boggling 35 interceptions and has 13 INTs for the season.  The NFL’s 32nd rated passer may soon be watching one of his former backups (AJ Feeley or Matt Moore) playing. 

Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell – Returned to his pitiful ways in a horrible loss to the NY Jets.  Russell had 2 INTs, 1 lost fumble, and was benched for journeyman QB Bruce Gradkowski.

Chicago Bears DT Tommie Harris – Inactive for lack of effort in practices and for overall being in head coach Lovie Smith’s doghouse.  The former Bears defensive leader was told he was not need this week and he may soon be looking for another team despite his huge contract.

NFL Week 7

SUN, OCT 25 

Bengals (5-2) over Bears (3-3), 45-10

Bills (3-4) over Panthers (2-4), 20-9

Cardinals (4-2) over Giants (5-2), 24-17

Chargers (3-3) over Chiefs (1-6), 37-7

Colts (6-0) over Rams (0-7), 42-6

Cowboys (4-2) over Falcons (4-2), 37-21

Jets (4-3) over Raiders (2-5), 38-0

Packers (4-2) over Browns (1-6), 31-3

Patriots (5-2) over Buccaneers (0-7), 35-7

Saints (6-0) over Dolphins (2-4), 46-34

Steelers (5-2) over Vikings (6-1), 27-17

Texans (4-3) over 49ers (3-3), 24-21

MON, OCT 26

Eagles (4-2) over Redskins (2-5), 27-17

Byes: Broncos (6-0), Jaguars (3-3), Lions (1-5), Ravens (3-3), Seahawks (2-4), Titans (0-6) 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Review – Week 5

 

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Cowboys WR Miles Austin is Week 5’s Game Ball winner for his monumental effort in the Cowboys’ OT win over the Chiefs

The second quarter of the 2009 NFL season began in Week 5 and the league seems to be a clear case of the “Have’s” and the “Have Nots”.  After five weeks of NFL play, there are five undefeated teams (New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, and Denver Broncos) — most undefeated clubs through the first five weeks of a season in NFL history.  There are also four winless teams after five weeks (St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers).  Fortunately the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns got off the “schnide” and can now call themselves winners after two close wins. The Browns “fueled” by the return of RB Jamal Lewis won 6-3 over the terrible Buffalo Bills and the Panthers further pushed Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn closer to the door with a 20-17 win. 

Overall I am going to designate Week 5 in the National Football League as “Blowout Week”.  There were 6 games of the 14 games played that were decided by 19 points or more.  Going into the weekend everyone feared that the Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers would dominate as they took on the NFL’s bottom rung teams — two combined wins between their opponents.  True to form the Giants (blew out the Oakland Raiders 44-7), Eagles (dominated the Bucs 34-14), Colts (marched through the Titans 31-9) and Vikings (tore apart the Rams 38-10) easily disposed of their opponents.  You can also throw-in other unexpected bludgeonings by Seattle Seahawks (beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-0) and Atlanta Falcons (lopsided win over the home team Niners 45-10).

Luckily for viewers, the NFL did also have its fair share of close games including two overtime thrillers.  Surprisingly two teams that were involved in close games were the Cowboys and Steelers.  Both came away with wins, but clearly they each played down to their respective home team competition too lightly (Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions).   The Dallas Cowboys continued there inconsistent ways as it took a monumental effort from receiver Miles Austin (see Game Balls) and quarterback Tony Romo to comeback in a game where they trailed the lowly Chiefs by a score of 10-3 at halftime.  Finally Dallas’ wake-up call came and the Cowboys hit some big plays to get the game to overtime and finally put the Chiefs away 26-20. Conversely the Steelers let Daunte Culpepper and the Lions hang around for a while due to an interception return for a touchdown then finally putting them away late in the fourth quarter winning by a score 28-20.

The game of the week was the Broncos led by “Belichick Jr” head coach Josh McDaniels beating his former team, the New England Patriots, by a score of 20-17 in overtime.  The Broncos drove 58 yards on the first series of overtime –- never looked back after winning the coin flip — to set up Matt Prater’s 41-yard winning field goal.  With former Eagles pro bowl safety Brian Dawkins leading the way, as usual the new-look Broncos were led by their defense, which has allowed just 43 points this season (8.6 per game).  The Broncos defense held the Patriots’ explosive offense scoreless in the second half and Pats Pro Bowl receiver Randy Moss to just 36 receiving yards.  On offense, RB Knowshon Moreno made his first career start rushing 21 times for 88 yards, but the Broncos went more to the air against a Patriots secondary that was having problems in coverage.  The Broncos rolled-up 321 yards through the air — compared to just 209 passing yards for New England — and rallied for a big come-from-behind win that realistically showed that they are a team to be reckoned with. 

Some Lloyd’s Leftovers for this week before we go to the awards are:

The Wildcat was loose on Monday Night — Running out of multiple formations including the Wildcat, Miami Dolphins’ running back combination, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams were nearly unstoppable in a physical 31-27 win over the NY Jets. Brown scored a pair of touchdowns, including the 2-yard game-winner out of the Wildcat, while rushing for 74 yards. Williams had 138 scrimmage yards, the big game coming on a 59-yard reception.  The Dolphins piled-up 151 rushing yards and converted nine of 14 third-down chances.  We even go to see rookie quarterback Pat White come in and move the chains on a third down run.

NFL Trade Deadline is approaching – Tuesday October 20th is the NFL Trade Deadline and for the first time in a while, there is some “buzz” around the date.  Already the NFL saw the trade of former Browns receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets and there could be more.  Watch for the names Bills WR Terrell Owens, Eagles WR Kevin Curtis, Titans QB Vince Young, Chiefs DT Glenn Dorsey, Browns QB Brady Quinn, and Chargers LB Shawn Merriman to possibly be changing teams around the deadline.  Of course I never hold my breath around the trade deadline, as former deals like former Niners QB Tim Rattay going the Tampa Bay Bucs for a future 6th rd pick at the 2005 deadline are usually the norm.

The NFL is now a passing league – Through Week 5, teams with 300-yard passers had a combined record of 23-8 (.742).  Which is the highest winning percentage of teams with 300-yard passers over the first five weeks of a season (since 1970).  The 23 combined wins are already the most in NFL history through the first five weeks of a season.  Perennial 300-yard passer Colts QB Peyton Manning did it again this week as he hit the magic mark in a win over the Titans – has won 5-of-5 this year in 300-yard passing games. Manning’s final passing numbers were 36 of 44 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.

Well it was a win — Browns QB Derek Anderson completed just two passes in 17 attempts for 23 yards in his team’s 6-3 ugly win over the Bills.  Anderson’s 11.8 completion percentage is the second-worst since the NFL-AFL merger for a winning quarterback with at least 15 pass attempts – also had a passer rating of 15. The Browns and Bills combined for the lowest scoring game of the season (9 points), besting the 9-7 result between the Redskins and Rams in Week 2.  And the Bills have lost 12 of their last 15 games.  What an ugly game, but at least Anderson “showed” that the Browns didn’t need disgruntled receiver Braylon Edwards…not.

Game Balls

Dallas Cowboys WR Miles Austin – Who needs T.O anyway!!! The big physical receiver from tiny Monmouth College (NJ) had 10 catches for a team-record 250 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 26-20 overtime victory at Kansas City. Austin saved the Cowboys’ hides with a 60-yard tackle-breaking game-winning TD reception in overtime. Austin became the 10th player in NFL history to record at least 10 catches, 250 yards and two touchdowns in a game. However QB Tony Romo’s new favorite target was the first player with those stats to score a game-winner in OT.

Honorable Mention

Philadelphia Eagles rookie WR Jeremy Maclin – Better stop double-teaming DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis maybe seeing more of the bench.  In his first NFL start, Maclin was electric.  The 2009 first rounder had six catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 33-14 win over Tampa Bay. Maclin was able to get deep twice for returning QB Donovan McNabb as he recorded touchdown receptions of 51 and 40 yards (firsts of his NFL career). Maclin is the fifth rookie since 1970 to have his first two career receiving touchdowns go for at least 40 yards and occur in the same game.

Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner – The veteran passer threw for 302 yards in the Cardinals’ 28-21 victory over Houston Texans. Warner’s efforts marked his 50th career 300-yard passing performance, which is the fifth-most in NFL history. Warner, has now passed for 300 yards in 50 of 113 games (44.2 percent), which is the fastest quarterback to reach 50 300-yard games, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (176 games).  Warner also hit another milestone as he has now passed for 13,255 yards in his Cardinals’ career, which combined with his 14,447 yards with the St. Louis Rams.  Makes Warner join hall of famer Fran Tarkenton as the only players to pass for at least 13,000 yards with two different teams.

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White – The 2008 Pro Bowl receiver had eight catches for a team-record 210 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ 45-10 win at San Francisco. White’s big day along Austin’s effort marks the second time in NFL history that two receivers each recorded at least 200 receiving yards and two TD catches on the same day (Kansas City’s Stephone Paige and Houston’s Drew Hill, Dec. 22, 1985).

Cincinnati Bengals RB Cedric Benson – The former Bears runner rushed 27 times for 120 yards and one touchdown in the Bengals’ 17 – 14 win over the Baltimore Ravens.  Benson became the first running back in 40 games to rush for at least 100 yards against the Ravens.

Other Honorees: New York Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in the Giants’ easy win over the Raiders); Denver WR Eddie Royal (10 catches for 90 yards in the Broncos’ overtime victory over the Patriots. Royal, who now has 109 receptions in 20 career games, became the third wide receiver in NFL history to reach 100 catches in 20 or fewer games, joining Arizona’s Anquan Boldin – 16 games – and former New England wide receiver Terry Glenn – 20); Baltimore safety Ed Reed (52-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Bengals, which was the 12th return TD of his career); Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck (threw four touchdowns completing 18 of 30 passes for 241 yards in the Seahawks’ 41 – 0 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars); Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (had a pick-six interception return and was a big part of the Cardinals’ game-saving goal-line stand); Colts WR Austin Collie (The rookie from BYU caught eight passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts win over the Titans); Carolina Panthers DE Julius Peppers (two sacks and a huge safety in Carolina’s first win).

Lloyd’s Lackey

The Oakland Raiders – Is there a team worse than the Raiders after their 44-7 humiliating loss to the New York Giants – to answer my own question… “NO”.  I am still trying to figure out how the Raiders ever won a game over the Chiefs earlier this year.  The Giants scored a touchdown on each of their first four possessions for a 28-0 lead only minutes into the second quarter. In his brief appearance, Manning was 8-of-10 for 173 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to backup quarterback David Carr. The Giants ended the game with 483 yards of offense compared to only 124 total yards for the Raiders.  Al Davis’ boys were unable to get the ball moving on the ground or in the air.  Their rushing total was just 60 yards on 25 carries for an average of only 2.4 per carry against a Giants’ defense that allowed 5.5 yards per carry in their first four games.  QB JaMarcus Russell continued to struggle as he finished with only 100 yards passing – the former first player selected in the 2007 NFL Draft was 1-of-6 to his wide receivers.  “I expected more out of us,” Raiders head coach Tom Cable said. “We just did not deliver today.” — Amen, Coach. And I didn’t want to mention it… but I will.  The Napa Valley Police and the NFL still might penalize Cable for his alleged punch against assistant coach Randy Hanson.

Dishonorable Mention

San Francisco 49ers CB Dre’ Bly – I guess he was trying to pay tribute to Deion Sanders.  But Bly’s decision to showboat as he was returning a great interception he made against the Falcons proved to be costly. The Niners corner had the ball stripped during his showboating attempt and head coach Mike Singletary was livid.  Of course later, Bly apologized but the damage was already done.

Patriots safety Brandon Merriweather – At a point when the Pats needed a stop late in the game, Merriweather took a dumb taunting penalty.  In the fourth quarter, Broncos WR Eddie Royal was hit in the back by Merriweather on an incompletion and the official right behind the play immediately threw his flag for pass interference. Then Merriweather made matters worse by getting up and pumping his fist while standing over Royal, thus garnering an additional15 yards for taunting.

Rams WR Donnie Avery – In a game that was well over, Avery decided to do a stupid dance after scoring a 27-yard touchdown in the Rams’ 38-10 loss to the Vikings.  Here see for yourself this unneeded display of non-team football.

Week 5 Games 

Bengals (4-1) over Ravens (3-2), 17-14

Broncos (5-0) over Patriots (3-2), 20-17

Browns (1-4) over Bills (1-4), 6-3

Cardinals (2-2) over Texans (2-3), 28-21

Colts (5-0) over Titans (0-5), 31-9

Cowboys (3-2) over Chiefs (0-5), 26-20

Eagles (3-1) over Buccaneers (0-5), 33-14

Falcons (3-1) over 49ers (3-2), 45-10

Giants (5-0) over Raiders (1-4), 44-7

Panthers (1-3) over Redskins (2-3), 20-17

Seahawks (2-3) over Jaguars (2-3), 41-0

Steelers (3-2) over Lions (1-4), 28-20

Vikings (5-0) over Rams (0-5), 38-10

Mon: Dolphins (2-3) over Jets (3-2), 31-27

Byes: Bears (3-1), Chargers (2-2), Packers (2-2), Saints (4-0)

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)