Frank Schwab

  • 2016 NFL Preview: Raiders will be a Super Bowl contender, and soon

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 18 hrs ago

    Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order of our initial 2016 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 6, the day before the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the preseason.

    If the Oakland Raiders break out this season, we can point to last Dec. 13 as one of the turning points.

    The Raiders were 5-7, still searching for a quality win that would make everyone take notice of their improvement. Against the Denver Broncos, defensive star Khalil Mack had five sacks. Quarterback Derek Carr threw two second-half touchdowns against the best defense in football. The Raiders went into Denver and beat the eventual Super Bowl champions 15-12. The Broncos went 8-2 from Nov. 22 on, including a Super Bowl 50 win. Denver only lost at Pittsburgh (understandable) and at home against the Raiders.

    It wasn’t the prettiest win for the Raiders, but it mattered. Given the strides the Raiders have made the past couple years, it seemed like a milestone in their rebuild. My guess is that by the end of this season, everyone will agree that the Raiders are finally back.

    IS THE RAIDERS’ RUNNING GAME GOOD ENOUGH?

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  • Josh Norman steers clear of trash talk war with Odell Beckham

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 1 day ago

    Josh Norman showed remarkable restraint.

    You’d figure that after New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham told GQ that Norman was only relevant because of him, Norman would to respond in kind. Norman is not afraid of mixing it up. But the Washington Redskins cornerback didn’t address Beckham’s comments when asked by Yahoo Sports.

    “Really, there’s nothing to talk about,” Norman said. “It’s just like beating a dead horse in a sense … asking me what I take on it. Like, come on man, everybody who knows me knows what I take on it. Am I going to say it? No. We’ll just have to see when the times get here.”

    Norman has not backed down from Beckham before, on the field when the two had numerous scraps during last season’s Carolina Panthers-Giants game, or after the game when Norman was asked about Beckham. And Norman seemed to indicate that he might address the topic down the road, before the Giants and Redskins play this season.

  • 2016 NFL Preview: Ravens aim to rebound, but with an aging core

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 1 day ago

    Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order of our initial 2016 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 6, the day before the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the preseason.

    Some organizations earn unwavering trust. The Baltimore Ravens are one.

    The Ravens have not had back-to-back losing seasons this century. Last year was only the fourth losing season Baltimore has had since 1998. And when the Ravens have slipped under .500, they have bounced back strong. The last three times the Ravens were coming off a losing season, they won 10, 13 and 11 games. The organization is rock solid, one of the best in the NFL.

    So was the 5-11 record the Ravens put up in 2015 just another speed bump or a sign there are finally some cracks in the foundation?

    It’s almost impossible for a team to overcome all those injuries. It also renders most of 2015 useless, as far as predicting the 2016 Ravens.

    But assuming the Ravens’ injured players come back strong (especially Flacco, who tore his ACL) and most of the old vets hold up for another year, the Ravens should be competitive again. That’s just what they do.

  • Larry Fitzgerald ready to play 'as long as I need to'

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 2 days ago

    Larry Fitzgerald is working on a campaign called “Riddell Smarter Football,” which makes sense. Fitzgerald has been able to prolong his career by being smart at every step.

    Fitzgerald had 1,215 receiving yards last season for the NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals. He turned 32 years old just before the season started. That used to be considered old for a receiver, unless you were Jerry Rice or Cris Carter. Fitzgerald is still one of the NFL’s best receivers and said he hasn’t thought about retirement.

    “I can play as long as I need to,” Fitzgerald said. “My body feels good. I still like the mental preparation. The only thing that changes is people’s perception about you when you reach a certain age.”

    There are many great players who aren’t slowing down in their 30s. Quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Drew Brees are still playing at a very high level, and skill-position players like Adrian Peterson and Steve Smith are too. Perhaps we need to reconsider what is old for an NFL player. The entire landscape has changed, with more information about nutrition, training and medicine, allowing players to have longer careers.

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  • 2016 NFL Preview: Rex Ryan's Bills defense has to get better

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 2 days ago

    Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order of our initial 2016 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 6, the day before the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the preseason.

    When you think of a Rex Ryan team, two things come to mind: an aggressive, stout defense, and a mediocre offense.

    Defense is Ryan’s calling card. That’s what made his 2015 Buffalo Bills team so confusing.

    Buffalo hit the lottery by gambling on Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. Some teams spend decades looking for a solution at quarterback, and the Bills found one for a three-year, $3.35 million contract. The Bills had a pretty good offense. It ranked ninth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA per-play metric. They were tied for sixth in the NFL in yards per play, 13th in yards per game and 12th in scoring offense. Taylor played well. They had a strong run game. The offense was better than anyone figured.

    If Ryan’s defense was better, the Bills’ long playoff drought would have ended. Nobody expected that script.

    IS TYROD TAYLOR’S SUCCESS SUSTAINABLE?

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  • Odell Beckham: Josh Norman is relevant 'because of me'

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 3 days ago

    I’m thankful for a lot of things, and high on the list is Josh Norman signing with an NFC East team.

    Now we get two games per season of what has to be the best personal rivalry in the NFL, Norman vs. New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham.

    Norman and Beckham played the feud last season when Norman was with the Carolina Panthers, fighting often during a late-season game between the teams. Beckham was suspended a game for his actions. Then Norman was let loose by the Panthers and signed with the Washington Redskins. You might think Norman signed in Washington because of the $75 million he was given, but Beckham thinks there was another reason.

    “If I wasn’t playing him twice a year, maybe people wouldn’t bring it up as much,” Beckham told GQ, via the New York Post and Complex. “But now it’ll be a lot more attention for him, attention that I don’t really look for, attention I don’t really need. The reason that he’s become so relevant is because of me.”

  • 2016 NFL Preview: Will a tougher schedule upend the Redskins?

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 3 days ago

    Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order of our initial 2016 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 6, the day before the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the preseason.

    How heavily do you weigh strength of schedule in the NFL? Your answer will determine what you think about the Washington Redskins.

    On one hand, we all know that playing the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers is tougher than playing the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans. So NFL strength of schedule matters, of course. But to what degree?

    That last paragraph is a long way of saying that all NFL teams are good. The difference between No. 1 and No. 32 isn’t as large as you think. Alabama can schedule Chattanooga, and the Crimson Tide’s chances of losing are about 0 percent. A team like Oklahoma will play what, three games this season in which it will truly be tested? Maybe four, five at the most? NFL teams don’t have that luxury. Every week you play a team capable of beating you.

    That last point makes the Redskins an interesting study.

    WHAT WILL WASHINGTON’S RECEIVERS LOOK LIKE THIS YEAR, AND BEYOND?

  • Instant star: Cowboys rookie has NFL's highest selling jersey since April

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 4 days ago

    Ezekiel Elliott is going to see a ton of playing time this season as a rookie for the Dallas Cowboys. And there will be a lot of people in the stands wearing his jersey while he runs the ball.

    Elliott, the fourth pick of this year’s NFL draft, already has the highest selling jersey in the NFL since April. That news comes from NFL spokesman Randall Liu, based on NFLShop.com sales.

    It’s strange to see Elliott, who has never taken an NFL snap, selling more jerseys than stars like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt. But it makes perfect sense. Fans obviously didn’t have a chance to buy Elliott’s jersey before April, when he was drafted, but have had years to buy the jersey of their favorite star. The Cowboys are a huge draw across the country, and Elliott will play a glamour position for them. Elliott also was a fantastic player at Ohio State, which has plenty of fans as well.

    For many rookies, seeing fans wearing their jersey is a fun milestone. Elliott won’t have to look far to find someone wearing his jersey.

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  • 2016 NFL Preview: Don't buy all the Jaguars hype just yet

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 4 days ago

    Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order of our initial 2016 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 6, the day before the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the preseason.

    We know some team will have a dramatic improvement this season and find itself in the playoffs. It happens every year. What we don’t know is who that surprise team will be. That’s what makes guessing so fun.

    This season, the bandwagon seems to be overflowing for two teams. We’ll get to the Oakland Raiders later in this series. But first, let’s examine the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Who doesn’t like the Jaguars’ direction heading into this season? There is Blake Bortles’ statistical improvement, two young and talented receivers, a free-agency shopping spree and a draft that was universally praised. Add in the return of 2015 first-round pick Dante Fowler from injury to help the pass rush, and it’s no surprise the Jaguars are one of this year’s helium teams.

    Is the hype justified? Be skeptical.

    That doesn’t mean everything Bortles did last season was meaningless, but it puts his 4,428 yards into perspective.

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  • Charles Tillman retires with a creative, funny video

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 5 days ago

    There are many ways to retire from the NFL, but not many have been better than Charles Tillman’s announcement.

    Tillman, the longtime Chicago Bears cornerback known as “Peanut” who spent last season with the Carolina Panthers, became famous for his ability to force fumbles, doing so 44 times in his 13-year career. That’s amazing for a cornerback. He perfected the “Peanut Punch,” and his retirement video had him showing up in various situations and knocking away things:

    At the end of the video, Tillman punched out at the employee time clock (get it?) and hung up his cleats. It was a little more complex than Marshawn Lynch’s way of retiring, but a great way to go for a player who became well known for his play on the field and his charity work off it.

    Tillman finished with 38 interceptions, two Pro Bowls, one All-Pro nod and one very funny retirement announcement.

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