Archive for February, 2005

Quick Shift For Moss

Saturday, 26 February, 2005

There are times when a disgruntled athlete will use his power to overly demand to the media and his team. In the past few years Randy Moss hasn?t been shy about how he doesn?t think Minnesota can win, and this year went overboard with his statements. As the Vikings exited the playoffs for the umpteenth time, Moss was able to reflect on his past eight years and come down to the decision that he needs a change of environment.

Still a lot of demands don?t come true, and no matter how well that athlete is there is always a superior psyche about themselves. So when Moss demanded a trade, did he truly mean that or was he just saying it because he felt safe and secure in Minnesota? It?s kind of one of those they don?t have the nerve to do it situations. Well, guess what Randy, Minnesota was wheeling and dealing as soon as you granted them approval, and now you?re an Oakland Raider. Both sides are going to move on, and for Daunte Culpepper you know his development is only going to get better, for Moss the talent is there but the certainty isn?t.

A lot of people will argue that the Vikings didn?t get enough for Moss in the trade, but Minnesota would beg to differ. Napolean Harris is a rising stud linebacker, and two first round picks could go in any direction in helping teams. All you have to do is look at the crop of young athletes making an impact in past years to realize that there are budding stars more than ever. So with two first round choices Minnesota is in a great position to get a young rising receiver (Mike Williams), and dig their hands in at grabbing one of the young running backs.

With teams throwing their money away on veterans, it leads to a Tennessee Titans situation. They have to part ways with tons of athletes just to get under the salary cap. If a team is going to be successful they need to have a balance of young hungry athletes to go along with established big names. Moss is established and by getting rid of him the Vikings are going to save themselves a lot of money in the long haul. On top of that they will secure a young athlete in Mike Williams that may be able to do just as much damage as Moss did, without gloating about it. How much hungrier can an athlete be, when he has been denied a year of being in the NFL, and had to sit a year out without a football home? Williams was already going to be a top five pick last year, and word is that he was training harder than ever to get his moment in this year. He should burst onto the scene and have an impact like Roy Williams, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Lee Evans, and etc. have been doing in their rookie seasons.

In Oakland you have Al Davis who pulls strings just as bad as Daniel Snyder in Washington. They still haven?t resolved their question mark at running back, and without a first round pick now it?ll be interesting to see what they plan on doing. Jerry Porter?s monstrous new contract, and Charles Woodson?s dangling to be signed it has the Raiders positioned for salary cap trouble in the near future. Al Davis must be positioning to make a run right now, and wouldn?t be shocking to hear him next try to grab Travis Henry, Shaun Alexander, or Edgerrin James. The farthest long shot that may not be unimaginable is Ricky Williams joining the Raiders. If and when Ricky Williams decides to get his feet wet again, we all know that Al Davis and the Raiders will be the first to knock on Williams door. He?ll be cheap because every NFL team will be doubting him, which means his contract will be incentive laden. Also he will be one of the freshest backs in the league after not playing in an NFL game since late 2003.

If Moss comes into Oakland with the right attitude and work ethic he is going to have a huge year. First he has Kerry Collins who throws one of the most accurate deep balls in the NFL, and does it frequently. Too many quarterbacks are too patient and only attempt to spread the ball out a couple of times a game. With Collins you have a quarterback that?ll take the risk on any given play. The second reason Moss should have a great year is because he?ll be surrounded by a great young crew of receivers. To go along with Jerry Porter the Raiders still have Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel. That?s one of the reasons why it?s so shocking the Raiders went after Moss, because receiver is one of the few positions that they didn?t need to work on. Nevertheless, teams can ill afford to double and triple team Moss with zone coverages because Porter and company will have career days.

Henry To Cardinals

Wednesday, 23 February, 2005

The Bills are doing everything they can to satisfy Travis Henry?s requests of a trade, and currently there is one hot rumor out there involving Henry and the Cardinals.

There is no question the Cardinals need a running back, with the departure of Emmitt Smith and the unknown health and return capability of Marcel Shipp. At only 27 years old Henry still possesses a lot of strong years left, especially since he?ll be fresh after practically having a year off due to injury. He is one of the smallish backs in the league in height at 5?9, but has superior strength especially in his legs that he uses to hit the hole explosively. With his small stature and blazing speed, defenses have a hard time finding him behind big offensive lineman, and when they do Henry already has the angle on them.

The offensive lineman that the Cardinals are potentially willing to trade for Henry is what you would define big in LJ Shelton. A former first round pick by the Cardinals, he has became disgruntled in Arizona with Dennis Green and wants out. The Bills could definitely use him to open more lanes for Willis McGahee and give JP Losman extra-secured protection. He is a capable Pro Bowl lineman if he wants to be, and a new situation may merit that.

For Henry he?ll get a chance to make a mockery of the Bills decision to choose him over McGahee. In Henry?s two full seasons as starter he had around 1400 yards rushing and double digits in touchdowns. The foreshadowing of McGahee taking over was evident from day one when the Bills drafted him with the twentieth pick in the draft a few years ago. The Bills knew they were going to bring McGahee along slowly, and give him a chance to take the job. Henry?s contract is up this year, and would be meaningless for him to sit around unhappy on the bench with his ability.

If the Bills can?t work out a deal with the Cardinals, there will be a definite alternative route with other teams. Henry?s numbers from previous years aren?t a fluke, and he?ll make a team extremely happy next season. Just look at how quickly the NFL evolves. Not even two years ago the Bills were going into the 2003 season with Drew Bledsoe and Travis Henry as their future leaders, now it?s JP Losman and Willis McGahee. This duo should be a tandem for a decent amount of time.

Franchising James Wrong Idea

Wednesday, 23 February, 2005

Edgerrin James may only be twenty seven years old, but he has taken a beating since being drafted in 1999. Injuries haven?t been able to slow him down, and he once again had a phenomenal year and another trip to the Pro Bowl. With the Colts high powered offense though, don?t you think that any average running back could be successful in the system?

No one wants to dismember a franchise that has planted all the right seeds, but building other stepping stones is needed for the Colts. They?ve placed so much emphasis on their offense that they don?t have the money to bring in key free agents. In fact, the Colts 2004 roster featured 70 percent of their salary devoted to the offense. How in the world are the Colts going to get by the Patriots or any other balanced offense without the key components on defense?

Tony Dungy is a defensive minded coach, and has done a great job with the players he has brought in. At times the Colts defense seems on the brink of improving, but they just can?t piece it together. They need an additional big name on the defense to go along with Dwight Freeney and Rob Morris. Filling that void in the NFL draft is a possibility, but defensive rookies usually have a harder learning adjustment period than quarterbacks.

So by placing the franchise tag on Edgerrin James, are the Colts really doing themselves a favor? More than likely there isn?t a team in the NFL that is going to offer James a big enough contract to pull him away from the Colts. When Edgerrin James has been hurt, the offense has never missed a tick and in fact chugged along without a problem. Dominic Rhodes and even James Mungro have been fine substitutes and you would?ve thought the Colts would have looked into their direction to alleviate extra money to spend on the defense.

James is a special back, but sometimes you have to sacrifice to go in another direction. The Colts are going to likely end up signing James to a long term deal, and what?s going to happen if James gets hurt two to three years down the road? They?ll be stuck with his contract, and/or be forced to take a salary cap hit when they cut him. It?s a cruel way to look at it, but it?s been happening to the best of players lately.

Bill Belicheck has been able to devise the perfect plan, and find the right players that want to win in a team oriented philosophy. Tony Dungy and company can get the same results but it?ll take extra hard work to find defensive mind athletes that are willing to take a pay cut to get the Colts defense to the level it needs to be. Peyton Manning could throw sixty touchdowns next year, and if the defense isn?t there than they?ll face another tough exit in the playoffs.

Porter-Raiders Work Out Deal

Wednesday, 23 February, 2005

Jerry Porter has resigned with the Raiders, and will be the front man of the receiving core for years to come. He spent a couple of years learning behind two of the best receivers of all time in Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, and now he gets his chance. Last season it took him awhile to come into his own, but down the stretch of the season he paced himself to finish with great marks.

Going into 2004, Porter was considered a top twenty receiver, and deservingly so. Even though he was coming off a rough year, the previous year he had showed great ability in the red zone with nine touchdowns. Add to that the fact that he was going to be the Raiders lone threat at receiver with respectability, and the pressure was on him.

With Kerry Collins adjusting to a new offense, it means that Jerry Porter had to also suffer from the transition. It was a process, but by the time the Raiders were playing the Broncos on national television it seemed to piece together. Porter burned Champ Bailey for three touchdowns, and tripled his season total as he only had one going into the week twelve ESPN televised game. In fact, Porter scored eight touchdowns in the final six games.

Still with Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel stepping up down the stretch as well, it looked like the Raiders might let Porter slip into free agency. Porter made it known that he would test his market value, and if the Raiders wanted him would need to pay up. Kerry Collins lobbied for the receiver to resign, and it took a few offers by the Raiders but Porter quickly obliged.

Collins and Porter seem to have a great connection with each other, and should only develop more as they get more experience with each other. As far as how high Porter should rank amongst receivers, is still questionable. The Raiders are going to address their running back issue, and when it is resolved you have to figure their running game will take away a little of their receivers stats. It got to the point last year that the Raiders would only run the football ten to fifteen times a game, and air it out the rest.

Jerry Porter is one of the top tier strength receivers in the league, and is up there with Terrell Owens and David Boston. He can shred of defenders or shield defenders with his body and that means a lot of red zone scores. His yardage may never rank in the top twenty in the league, but his touchdowns will be more than enough to be a worthy top ten fantasy receiver.

Butting Heads

Tuesday, 22 February, 2005

When there are two big name athletes having to share the load or coexist with each other, it usually ends up being an ugly situation. We all saw the good and the bad with Kobe and Shaq, but the same matters exist in the front office. Coaches and owners are often hand in hand with decision making, but for Dallas the situation is quickly making its way into the public eye.

Jerry Jones wants to develop young quarterback Drew Henson, and as Bill Parcells indicated last year he doesn?t feel or want to give Henson a chance at the moment. As the Cowboys are looking to make moves in the off-season it seems like Parcells and Jones may need to get their relationship tuned up behind closed doors, before any progress is made.

Drew Henson could definitely be the future of the Cowboys, but there will obviously be a considerable amount of growing pains before that could happen. Bill Parcells is at the stage of his life and coaching career where he doesn?t have the energy or devotion to build up another quarterback. A lot of NFL teams are leaning more and more to using young quarterbacks, instead of picking up a capable veteran. In years past though, there are plenty of examples that show that a team can come up quickly with a solid veteran. Jim Harbaugh, Randall Cunningham, Chris Chandler, and many other quarterbacks have had better late stage careers by finally landing on the right team.

That?s exactly what Bill Parcells envisions his Dallas Cowboys can do with the right veteran. In the weak NFC, all it would take is a quick move to put the Cowboys in a great position to compete with the Eagles, Falcons, Rams, and Packers. Their defense kept them in countless games last year, that would?ve looked better if they had offensive support. When the offense is only scoring thirteen points, it weakens the heart of a defense. With a reputable offense the Cowboys defense would jump back into the top five of the NFL.

On offense the Cowboys have a rising stud running back in Julius Jones, and still a solid offensive line. At the receiver position Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Quincy Morgan make up one of the best veteran receiving corps in the league. The problem will be if they can stay healthy, which has been a problem for Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson has been able to play through his injuries. Still, they all add different elements of abilities that are going to be tough for secondaries to shut down.

If Drew Henson is the starter though, you can bank on plenty of veteran athletes giving up on the season and putting forth little effort. When there is no motive to win, it deeply sucks the life out of a veteran that?s been on winning teams before and has money security. So the best solution for the Cowboys is Parcells idea of bringing in a veteran quarterback. Drew Bledsoe would be a great fit, but there should be others that the Cowboys may take a look at including Steve McNair.

Either way the clashing between Parcells and Jones could get ugly. Parcells isn?t afraid to speak his mind, and isn?t going to settle for Jones ideas like an inexperienced coach. If Jones truly wants to go in Henson?s direction, than expect Parcells to resign as coach either during next season or after. It?d be nice to see what Parcells can do with a veteran quarterback, and he?ll likely get that chance for one season. If they come short of a playoff berth though, than there is no other way to go for the Cowboys than move on.

Parcells will be starting his third different quarterback in three years, and you just can?t jump around at that department anymore. It?ll be time to settle down and either go with Henson or draft another young quarterback to compete with him.

Where Does Steven Jackson Rank?

Sunday, 20 February, 2005

Speculation is over in St. Louis as the late season indications of the Rams headed in another direction at running back are resolved. Mike Martz announced early this week that Jackson will be the go to guy, with Faulk being a threat as a receiving back. So where does this place Jackson amongst the other top notch running backs, and is Marshall Faulk?s days as a fantasy back over?

Consistent production is a topic that is non arguable. When Steven Jackson was on the field in 2004 he was a difference maker. His average per carry was 5.0, and you?d think the majority of his yardage came on huge plays with that type of average. For Jackson though he mixes it up well, and gives you decent yardage on practically every carry. In fact if it weren?t for Jackson being hurt at points in the season, Martz would?ve likely made the permanent switch then.

Martz isn?t a fool, and in the playoffs made it publicly known that Steven Jackson would get the bulk of the carries. Against the Eagles in the division round, Jackson showcased his ability but like countless times in the regular season the Rams got out of a true game plan. If Jackson is going to be a consistent fantasy running back, the Rams are going to need to put more attention to focusing on the running attack. Marc Bulger is a great quarterback, but his career will be cut short if he keeps throwing forty to fifty passes a game. The Rams have too many threats on offense for teams to stop, so it is hard to decide which avenue to take as a coordinator, but it?s also senseless to not throw different options at teams.

As long as Jackson can get twenty to twenty five touches a game he is automatically to be considered as a top ten back with tremendous upside. The Rams are going to score a lot of points regardless of what other defenses may think, and Jackson will be a representation of that. It wouldn?t be shocking for Jackson too come near Faulk?s old stats when he first came to the Rams. From the years 1999 to 2001 Faulk was a consistent thirteen to fourteen hundred yard guy with touchdowns in the mid to high teens range. Jackson should be able to surpass the yardage numbers, but the touchdowns are hard to judge at this point.

A guy that deserves a pat on the back after this whole situation is Marshall Faulk. Late in the regular season when Jackson started getting more carries, Faulk didn?t argue with the call. In fact when Martz made the decision in the playoffs he acknowledged that it was the right decision. Maybe Faulk wasn?t at 100 percent, but to stay grounded about the whole situation truly defines his character.

Faulk was always downed for his size, and might not even be in the NFL if he didn?t believe in his own ability. All the colleges that recruited him out of high school wanted him to play cornerback, so he went to the lone school that would offer him the running back position. When he came to the NFL in 1994, it was still at the time that being a smallish type scat back was looked at as a high risk. As the Napolean Kaufman?s have drifted off of the map, Faulk has endured a strong ten-year stretch that started with a remarkable rookie season. He proved that speed and strength can be a classification for a back of his size, as he has made plenty of tough runs. If he were to retire today, his career should already have enough highlight reel material for the Hall of Fame.

Rumors are that the Rams might even cut Faulk to save themselves cap room. If it were to happen than Faulk?s fantasy value would be in jeopardy until we see what team he lands at. For now though he is a Ram, and should be considered as a strong fourth running back and a possible third back in twelve to fourteen team leagues. He?ll likely only do his damage in the yardage category, but because of his threat out of the backfield should accumulate 1,000 yards. Throwing him in at a week when you?re struggling with bye weeks or injuries could get you a safe five to six points that could pay off in a close fantasy game.