Dan Wetzel

  • Solution to meaningless NFL preseason games with meaningful injuries: Dual practices

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    On the sixth of his just 11 plays Saturday, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford was tackled at his twice surgically repaired knees. Two snaps later, Bradford was slammed again, leaving him slow to rise and with a bloody lip.

    Bradford's knees survived the first shot. His brain the second. And with that Philly, and the NFL as a whole, dodged the disaster of seeing the Eagles lose their starting quarterback and perhaps postseason hopes.

    They were fortunate, not a concept shared in Green Bay (blown knee for Jordy Nelson), Pittsburgh (broken ankle for Maurkice Pouncey) or Washington (concussion to Robert Griffin III), among other spots. It's likely only RG3 plays this season.

    As for Nelson, Rodgers said, "It's difficult to lose a guy like that in a meaningless game."  The QB looked distraught as he renewed the old debate over shortening that meaningless preseason.

    "I think a lot of players around the league [believe the preseason is too long and pointless]," Rodgers said. "At least cut it down, maybe, to a couple [games]."

  • Deflate-gate is rotting Roger Goodell's spoils of lockout victory

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    NEW YORK – Across Wednesday morning here in United States District Court, Judge Richard M. Berman peered down from the bench and tried to make sense of the NFL's disciplinary system.

    He asked questions of the NFL's lawyer, Daniel Nash. He teamed up with the NFLPA's guy, Jeffrey Kessler, to ridicule how the NFL conducts business – "outstanding observation," Kessler comically noted to the judge at one point, like they were co-stars in some buddy movie.

    He expressed exasperation, confusion and outright mockery at the NFL's defense of its four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for either being generally aware of other people deflating footballs, or actively participating in it, or not cooperating, or, well something, or everything.

    "There has to be some basic process of fairness," Berman said at one point, but the truth – and the crux of the case – is that maybe there doesn't.

    "We had a hearing and the commissioner gave a verdict that is final and binding," Nash said.

    What exactly, though, did it really win?

     

    "There are standards of fairness," Berman said.

    "A quantum leap," Berman declared.

  • Deflate-gate judge hammers NFL's case against Tom Brady; 'Your Honor is spot-on,' defense crows

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    NEW YORK – Daniel Nash stood behind a courtroom lectern on the 17th floor of a federal court house here and tried to argue the NFL's case in suspending Tom Brady for four games in the deflate-gate saga.

    Yet as the attorney made his presentation he kept getting interrupted by Judge Richard M. Berman, who repeatedly engaged in direct counterarguments against Nash, sometimes even warning that legal precedent suggested the NFL could lose its case.

    It happened over and over during Nash's 63 minutes in front of the judge and with each Berman question or counterpoint, none of them positive for the NFL, Nash began taking a small, but telling, step back from the lectern, like a boxer retreating in the face of an incoming haymaker.

    He may have expected to duel NFL Players Association attorney Jeffrey Kessler here. He probably wasn't expecting the judge to be even tougher on him and it figuratively rocked him.

    Berman reminded everyone last week not to read too far into the tone and frequency of his questions to lawyers because it wouldn't necessarily reveal his feeling on the case. This week he didn't repeat the request.

    Not that it would've mattered.

  • Bills' Rex Ryan charges into second-chance job with second-chance guys

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Richie Incognito was suspended in Miami for his role in a bullying scandal. He's now a Buffalo Bill. Percy Harvin was dumped by Seattle after getting in two separate fights with two separate teammates. He's now a Buffalo Bill. IK Enemkpali was cut by the New York Jets after busting quarterback Geno Smith's jaw in a locker-room punchout. He's, of course, now a Buffalo Bill.

    The head coach of the Buffalo Bills doesn't shy away from any of that, doesn't pretend it's some kind of a coincidence.

    Yes, Rex Ryan, acknowledges, he and the front office haven't shied away from bringing in talented players who bombed out elsewhere because they couldn't coexist with their teammates. They aren't, at least publicly, a bit worried about it.

    These, he notes, are the kinds of attitudes he seeks. Second chance, last chance, another chance … guys who almost lost it all now back with the desperation that comes with having something to prove.

  • Browns dim spotlight on Johnny Manziel, offer better path to success through mentorship from a journeyman

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    CLEVELAND – At one point in the second quarter here Thursday, Johnny Manziel was running and cutting through a secondary and into the end zone like he was back on Kyle Field or at Kerrville Tivy High.

    "There's one free safety there sitting in the middle of the field and that's the only guy left," Manziel said, describing the second-quarter touchdown. "It opened up and I just made a play."

    Here in Cleveland's preseason opener, Manziel showed speed. He showed elusiveness. He showed a strong arm on most throws. He showed that when he left the pocket to scramble, he at least did it because he had no other choice. And when he did, coach Mike Pettine said Manziel kept his eyes downfield as he went.

    He went 7 of 11 for 42 yards, plus that 12-yard rushing TD.

    Not bad.

    "Nothing special, nothing terrible," Manziel said. "Right there in the middle. It's never as bad, never as good. Learn and move on."

    If this were a year ago, there would've been excitement for a first-round rookie, Johnny Football firing up Northeast Ohio.

    "Poised," Pettine said. "Focused."

  • Why Ray Rice could be the Browns' best (and only?) answer for help at running back

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    CLEVELAND – It was a series of slow-to-develop failures, a pathetic 1.7 yards per attempt, an effort by the Cleveland Browns running backs in Thursday's preseason opener that no one could love. Well, maybe one guy could.

    Ray Rice.

    Rice hasn't played football since 2013 because of an ugly domestic violence incident. The former Baltimore star is free from NFL suspension, though, and desperate for another chance. His production dropped significantly in 2013 – just 3.1 yards per rush – but at age 28, fully healthy and well rested, he seems like a worthy gamble for a team desperate enough to take a shot on him.

    [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!]

    If 27 total yards on 16 carries – including eight carries for 16 yards from the two guys vying for the starting job – doesn't qualify as desperate, well, it might just be a matter of time.

    This isn't trending in a great direction, though.

    That won't last without a run game.

    On Thursday, though, they sure didn't do much with it.

  • As Brady-NFL settlement talks begin, unsettling picture continues to emerge on league's conduct

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago

    Roger Goodell and Tom Brady are scheduled to meet Wednesday for a mediation session in federal court in Manhattan.

    Brady should take the opportunity to make the first settlement offer: a zero-game suspension, no fine, full exoneration and a public apology from the commissioner for completely misrepresenting Brady's under oath testimony and then somehow using it to declare Brady untrustworthy.

    Goodell won't go for that, of course. That's the point. If the actions of the league office from the start have told us anything, it's that the NFL isn't going to go for any deal, so why pretend otherwise?

    The good part of this getting to federal court is that it is no longer about whether or not the footballs were deflated at the AFC championship game and, if they were, whether Brady knew about it.

    Everyone can believe whatever it is they choose.

    This is now all about how the case has pulled the curtain back on the NFL's disciplinary process. The more light that gets into the crevices of the procedure and the practices used to prop it up, the better.

    Even if you suspect Brady is as guilty as sin there is no denying the NFL had a profoundly weak case here.

     

     

  • Here's what life after 0-16 looks like for Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago

    OXNARD, Calif. – An impressive array of talent stepped onto the twin practice fields of the Dallas Cowboys' training camp here last Thursday morning. There was Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Tyron Smith and so on. They were milling about waiting for an air horn to signal the start of the first session of the first day of a season with Super Bowl possibilities.

    Standing near one of the end zones may have been the unlikely key to it all, a blue-collar, 66-year-old, Vietnam War veteran who in football terms holds a humbling, and considering his current role, unlikely distinction:

    Coach of the worst team in NFL history.

    Rod Marinelli is the Cowboys' defensive coordinator. In 2008 he was the head coach of the Detroit Lions, which isn't just the only NFL team to go 0-16, but one that barely even threatened to win a game. Those Lions, in one example of futility among many, lost their eight home games by an average of 22 points.

    Still, 0-16 is 0-16 and it isn't easy for anyone's career, let alone their confidence, to recover from such a calamity.

  • Roger Goodell's manipulation of Tom Brady's testimony leaves NFL on slippery slope

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 22 days ago

    At this point it's fair to say the NFL was immediately convinced the New England Patriots deflated footballs in the AFC championship game and then worked backward with great diligence and, at times, great duplicity to conclude it as true.

    The NFL mostly failed, although that doesn't guarantee the Patriots are innocent. New England very well might have deflated the footballs. There was, and there remains, plenty of suspicious acts that demand questioning after a guy nicknamed the Deflator took the footballs into the bathroom just before kickoff. It's just the league has never proven its case. [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] No matter where you stand on the guilt or innocence of Tom Brady, et al, the actions of the league office grow more disconcerting and indefensible by the day, especially after Thursday's release of testimony and documents from Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension.

    To the NFL, this was proof of guilt.

    It would have been far more incriminating if Brady and Jastremski never spoke.

  • Patriots' fight with NFL gets nastier with release of emails

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 27 days ago

    There are exclamation points and words in all CAPS, harsh attacks, repeated pleadings for action and eventually just befuddlement. And that's just the New England Patriots' side of intraleague emails that the team released Friday.

    From the NFL there was mostly dismissive arrogance, if any response at all.

    If league commissioner Roger Goodell was hoping the swirl around deflate-gate was closing in on an end, one that would take place in the cool confines of federal court, he might want to buckle up. Patriots owner Robert Kraft may look like a harmless grandfather but he's a self-made billionaire and one who operates by an old school, look-them-in-the-eye code and isn't much for anyone who violates it.

    Goodell violated it by Kraft's thinking and now this looks like all out war on the league office. Just as a federal judge told everyone to tone down the rhetoric, Kraft went scorched earth.

    The Patriots were convinced the NFL leaked the fake story in the first place. The least the NFL could do, New England argued, was set the record straight.

    Roger Goodell trifled with him though.