Frank Schwab

  • 2016 NFL Preview: If Chiefs want to make a run, now is the time

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 13 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.

     

    It feels weird to call the Kansas City Chiefs a Super Bowl contender. It also feels weird to not call the Kansas City Chiefs a Super Bowl contender.

    I don’t know of another NFL team whose ceiling and floor are closer. The Chiefs won 11 games in a row last season, including a demolition of the Houston Texans in the playoffs. You can’t do that unless you’re a really good team. But their season ended pretty much how you’d figure, in a mundane loss to the New England Patriots, who were clearly the better team. There’s no denying the Chiefs are good. I’m just not sure they have another gear.

    Teams can win big with a quarterback like that. The Denver Broncos won it all last year and their quarterback play was mostly terrible. Smith is far from terrible. But when you don’t have a dynamic quarterback (or at least one capable of a Joe Flacco or Eli Manning type of playoff hot streak), everything else has to go right.

     

  • 2016 NFL Preview: Vikings hope to get Adrian Peterson to a Super Bowl

    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.

    There are probably two categories of Minnesota Vikings fans: Ones who have convinced themselves that Adrian Peterson is a superhero and will be a Hall of Fame running back forever, and the ones who worry if the rest of the Vikings will peak when Peterson is still in his prime.

    We discussed Peterson and whether the Vikings could get to the Super Bowl with him in their preview a couple years ago. Back then Peterson was destined to be the NFL’s Ernie Banks and never play for a championship, at least for Minnesota. He has won one playoff game in his great career.

    But then the Vikings got good in a hurry.

    WHO IS THE MOST VALUABLE VIKINGS DEFENDER?

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  • 2016 NFL Preview: Cowboys might regret their draft decisions

    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.

    I wanted to put the Dallas Cowboys very high in these rankings.

    The pieces were in place for them to go back to where they were at the end of 2014, when they were Super Bowl contenders. Had Dez Bryant’s catch at Lambeau Field been called a catch, they were going to advance to play the Seattle Seahawks with the NFC title on the line. The Cowboys won at Seattle earlier that season. If we assume the 2015 debacle was because of Tony Romo’s injuries, it’s logical to assume the Cowboys could be contenders again this season.

    Everything seemed to fit for the 2016 Cowboys. Then Jerry Jones had to go and screw up the draft.

    I didn’t like the Cowboys’ draft when it happened. The longer I’ve thought about it, the more I hate it.

    CAN A TEAM WITH A BAD DEFENSE WIN A SUPER BOWL?

     

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  • 2016 NFL Preview: Texans have a QB, so expectations will rise

    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.

    I had doubts about Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien at the end of last October.

    His second season was off to an ugly start. A loss to the Miami Dolphins dropped the Texans to 2-5. Houston trailed the Atlanta Falcons by 42 points in one loss, and the Dolphins by 41 in another defeat. You should go a decade in the NFL between 40-point deficits. The Texans did it twice in a month. The Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans were the worst teams in the NFL last year and neither one allowed 40 points in a game.

    O’Brien had a nice rookie season, but he didn’t handle the quarterback situation well early in the year and his team was getting embarrassed far more often than any NFL team should.

    By the end of the season, however, I was sold on O’Brien. He’s the best coach in the AFC South. He might be one of the 10 best coaches in the NFL.

    And then $72 million later, the Texans had their quarterback.

     

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  • 2016 NFL Preview: Jets' quarterback issue clouds everything else

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 5 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 started this series on July 6, counting down all the teams in reverse power rankings order. The rankings had to be finalized a little before that, for production reasons.

    When these rankings were set, I had no idea what to do with the New York Jets. Almost a month later, I still don’t.

    Fitzpatrick isn’t an Aaron Rodgers-type quarterback who can change a franchise’s fortunes on his own, but the difference with him and without him is stark. The Jets don’t have any reliable option beyond Fitzpatrick. This ranking will change dramatically if Fitzpatrick doesn’t sign.

    Jets fans, who are used to suffering, know what happened next.

    [Yahoo Fantasy Football is open for the 2016 season. Sign up now]

    WHAT DOES MATT FORTE HAVE LEFT?

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

    Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 6 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.

    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 7 days 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 7 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.

    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 8 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 8 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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