It’s a good thing for Kerry Collins that Twitter wasn’t around in the late 1990s. The 17-year NFL veteran was the first player selected in the history of the Carolina Panthers franchise, but he’s perhaps best known for something that happened off the field. In 1997, at a party held to celebrate the end of training camp, Collins directed a racial epithet at second-year receiver Mushin Muhammad. Mike Freeman, now of CBS Sports and then of the New York Times, wrote that Collins had the kind of relationship with some of his black teammates where some of those teammates were not offended by whatever word was used (you can certainly figure it out). But Muhammad was not one of those teammates. A fight nearly broke out, and that story followed Collins through the rest of his career. He threw for over 40,000 yards and appeared in Super Bowl XXXV with the New York Giants, but some will only remember Collins as the guy who called his teammate an unacceptable word.
In the end, that's the best possible outcome.
RENTON, Wash. – The news was not good for the Seattle Seahawks’ hypothetical receiver corps on Tuesday. On the same day that head coach Pete Carroll told the media that number-one target Sidney Rice was in Switzerland undergoing “some sort of knee treatment,” fellow number-one target Percy Harvin announced via Twitter that he will require hip surgery. Rice’s timeline is unknown, though Carroll said he thought Rice would not miss any games, but Harvin will be out for 3-4 months at the very least, according to initial reports.
Derek Anderson, the team’s primary starting quarterback in the first post-Kurt Warner year, said that he’d never worked with a rookie receiver who looked better, and uber-receiver Larry Fitzgerald actually insisted that in time, Williams could replace him as the team’s top man. Fitzgerald is famously kind to his young battery mates, but you’ve never heard him say that about Michael Floyd or Andre Roberts.
The Green Bay Packers were tired of their inconsistent running game over the last few seasons, so they looked to do something about it with authority in the 2013 NFL draft. General manager Ted Thompson and his staff selected Alabama running back Eddie Lacy in the second round, and went back to the well in the fourth by picking UCLA speedster Johnathan Franklin. Lacy was known to be a power back more than anything for the Crimson Tide – while he did have some second-level speed, his primary attribute was his ability to bull through at the line and gain those tough yards.
Judging from his first preseason in the NFL, and a picture making the rounds on the Internet (Lacy was trending on Twitter on Monday evening as a result), it looked like Lacy had been bulling through some of his teammates at the training table.
The storm started when David Woods (@davidpwoods on Twitter) posted the picture above, of Lacy apparently at an offseason OTA weeks ago on the left, and a Packers.com picture on the right.
— David Woods (@davidpwoods) July 29, 2013
With all the talk about today’s NFL being a game in which quarterbacks rule the day and everything else runs one step behind, the Houston Texans have built a consistently winning team with a decidedly old-school archetype. Their best player in 2012 was a defensive lineman (J.J. Watt), their primary receiver is an under-the-radar superstar, their quarterback stands a bit above average, and the real fulcrum of the team lies in a power-based, zone running game. They had the NFL’s fewest shotgun plays in 2012, and ran more than most teams when they were behind, even late in games,when they were behind – 34 percent of all such plays in the second half, to be specific.
Something is going to have to pop for the Texans to take the next step, and most think that the pressure is most on quarterback Matt Schaub. Schaub’s problem is not that he’s a bad quarterback; rather, the issue seems to be his inability to rise to that nebulous “elite” level, and he’s going to hear a lot about that this season. Matter of fact, he’s already heard a lot about it.
The transition from professional football the life after the game can be difficult for many players, and none more so that those who face an uncertain future with the aftereffects of head injuries suffered during their time between the lines. Former NFL running back Dorsey Levens has combined two concerns to try and so some good. Levens, who played in the NFL from 1994 through 2004 with the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants, has become very involved in film and theater over the last few years. He's now working on a documentary called "Bell Rung," about the post-football concussion effects athletes must endure. To extend the movie from 48 minutes to the projected final length of 90 minutes, Levens has turned to the increasingly popular method of crowd-funding.
When we recently spoke with him, Levens had a lot to say about his film, and the ways in which the NFL deals with (and has dealt with) concussions.
Shutdown Corner: How did you get involved in crowd-funding?
It’s been an up-and-down decade for Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who has had as many four-win seasons as 10-win seasons (two each) in the last half-decade. The formerly cheapskate franchise recently made a new commitment to scouting and assistant coach retention, which has allowed Lewis’ guys to draft more sensibly and develop players with better clarity. As a result, the Bengals are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. They’ve been in the playoffs each of the last two seasons, but have been eliminated decisively each time by the Houston Texans in the first round.
In those two games, second-year quarterback Andy Dalton’s stats: 41 completions in 72 attempts for 384 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions. Dalton looked overwhelmed in both games, and in one consistent fashion – though he can handle a game at the NFL level, he’s not a consistently great thrower under pressure, he will fire errantly at times, and his deep ball leaves a lot to be desired.
ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski recently outlined some of Dalton’s attributes and liabilities in his “QB Countdown” (produced by our good friend Greg Cosell), and it’s a fair assessment.
RENTON, Wash. -- When the Seattle Seahawks traded their 2013 first-round pick and two other picks to the Minnesota Vikings for the services of receiver Percy Harvin, and then signed Harvin to a six-year, $67 million contract with $25 million guaranteed in March, it was thought that the Florida alum would add a matchup nightmare from multiple positions that few defenses could deal with. Given Seattle's stocked status in the running game, at the quarterback position, and in their receiver corps, the move didn't make sense unless you understood that Harvin can line up all over the formation, presenting pass coverages with options that would always be wrong. Harvin was playing at an MVP level early in the 2012 season for the Vikings, but he suffered a ligament tear in his ankle, and missed the second half of Minnesota's campaign. Harvin has played all 16 games in a regular season just once since the Vikings selected him with the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, and that issue may have come home to roost for Harvin's new team.
So, the obvious follow-up question was, if the need arises, is Tate ready to take Harvin's place as that multi-position weapon?
Coming into his sixth NFL season, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl MVP, the man behind one of the greatest sustained postseason passing performances in NFL history, and the proud owner of a six-year, $120.6 million contract. signed on March 1, which includes $52 million guaranteed, and a $29 million signing bonus. That's a lot to handle for a guy who finished 17th overall in Football Outsiders season-cumulative metrics and sixteenth in per-play efficiency in 2012, but those aren't the stats that matter.
It was the first time in Flacco's career that the fully-developed version of the quarterback was matched by a truly diverse and modern offense, and the late run convinced the Ravens that he was worth the kind of scratch given to the best at his position. Now, with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed gone, and the emphasis put on the offense (specifically the passing offense) more than at any other time in the franchise's history, it's all on Flacco to remain at that mythical "next level."
It's a good thing he does, because like never before, it will be on Flacco to make that happen.
It was probably the oddest firing of an NFL head coach since A.J. Smith canned Marty Schottenheimer after Martyball led the San Diego Chargers to a 14-2 record in the 2006 season. When the Chicago Bears let Lovie Smith go on New Year's Day, the franchise had just finished a 10-6 season, and hadn't had a losing season under Smith since the 2009 campaign. Add in the fact that Smith is a defensive coach at heart, and his defenses were always great in Chicago, and the move seemed even stranger. But second-year general manager Phil Emery had a different way he wanted to go. Emery is well-acquainted with the new analytics and metrics, and he's known as a guy not afraid to think outside the box. So, as opposed to some head-coaching retread or promising young assistant, he hired longtime quarterback guru and recent CFL legend Marc Trestman to replace Smith.
The true value of a pass rusher comes not just in his sacks, but also in his ability to pressure quarterbacks in all sorts of ways. Hits and hurries, tabulated by formal and informal game-charting services, can be just as important when discussing the greatest quarterback terrorizers. And if Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller loses his appeal and is served with a four-game suspension to begin the season, no team will be more cognizant of this fact those Broncos. Between Miller and defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who was lost to the team in a free-agency fax fiasco in May, Denver would go into their opener against the Baltimore Ravens without 24 quarterback hits and 64 quarterback hurries from the 2012 campaign. That's how many hits and hurries Miller and Dumervil amassed together.
When the Broncos signed Phillips, they saw him as a Miller backup, which certainly seems prescient.