Tag:Marshawn Lynch
Posted on: December 19, 2011 1:47 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 10:33 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 15: Good losses?

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. New format! Same old sorting! Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 15 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

Are Good Losses Good?

You're not ever going to hear Aaron Rodgers or Tim Tebow admit this, but losing isn't always a bad thing. In the case of each, a loss on Sunday actually means significantly less pressure in the public eye over the next few weeks.

For Rodgers, there's no more chatter about whether or not the Packers can run the table. Granted, that was a side story to Tebow for most of the past few weeks but if Green Bay had beat Kansas City, the heat was about to be turned up with questions about resting players, playing stars, Mercury Morris' plethora of media appearances and much more.

The loss stinks, clearly. But now the week will be filled with questions like "Are the Packers in trouble?" and "Are the Saints the best team in the NFC?" (See: below). So a team that hadn't lost in nearly a year is suddenly going to get a free chip put on its shoulder? That seems smart for the rest of everyone.

As for Tebow, we all needed this. I love Tim Tebow's story. I love that my cousins' neighbors have a dog named Tebow. I love that my grandfather sends me newspaper clippings about Tebow's awesomeness. But my, um, God, that last week leading up to the Patriots game was just too much, you guys. We had media wars, Tebrews, preachers recanting TMZ quotes on Twitter and just generally all the other things you'd associate with the Apocalypse.

But now the Broncos lost and the Tebowagon gets a chance to tap the brakes, all while not giving up any ground on the playoffs (except to the Chargers who propped their playoff window open a little wider).

We (me, you, Tim) just need some time apart from Tebowmania. Hopefully we get at least a week.

Winners

It's a good thing Romeo Crennel didn't wear the traditional white shirt on Sunday. (US Presswire)

Romeo Crennel: We've been giving Crennel credit for his defensive schemes for a few weeks now, but Sunday's performance by the Chiefs -- a stunning 19-14 win over previously unbeaten Green Bay -- was absolutely worthy of the Gatorade bath he got after his first game as interim coach in Kansas City. The Chiefs shut down the Packers high-powered offense and Crennel parlayed the "you'd think it's obvious!" decision to bench Tyler Palko for Kyle Orton into a serious résumé builder for the offseason.

Reggie Bush: Look, I've ripped Reggie Bush left and right, especially considering his lack of success as an actual running back over the course of his career. But the dude is going HAMbone down in South Beach and Sunday's 203-yard effort makes him just the 40th running back since 1970 to rush for more than 200 yards on 25 or less carries. If you said you predicted Chiefs over Packers I might give it to you. If you predicted Bush rolling for 200 yards? You're a liar.

Skittles: Marshawn Lynch might've only averaged 2.1 yards per carry against the Bears, but he found the end zone twice and crossed the 1,000 yard mark for the season. The game was in Chicago which means it didn't rain rainbows all over Beast Mode when he dashed in the end zone. But has a candy ever gotten a bigger accidental brand boost from an athlete than what Lynch is giving those little sugar bombs during Seattle's sneaky playoff run?

Kyle Orton: Or, as I like to call him, "Senor Spoiler." Orton ripped the heart out of the Packers chance at an undefeated season and over the next two weeks, he's going to get a pair of shots to ruin some seasons. First there's Oakland in Week 16; a win in KC then and the Raiders are likely done. And then the ultimate revenge game against the Broncos, in Denver, on the final week of the season, against the guy, Tim Tebow, that de-seated him. There might be some major egg on John Elway's face if Orton pulls that "W" out.

Norv Turner: It seems impossible that Turner could save his gig, but that's mainly because the Chargers are dead-man walking when it comes to the playoffs ... or are they? After pummeling the Ravens on Sunday night, they've won their last three games and with losses by the Jets, Broncos, Titans, and Raiders they're suddenly one game back of a playoff spot.

Losers

Tom Coughlin: Just a week removed from taking over the NFC East with an impressive performance against the Cowboys, the target's back on Coughlin's back and it's bigger than ever. You can't watch Dallas dominate the Bucs on Saturday night and then lay a freaking ostrich egg at home against a division rival with four wins. Not if you want to make the playoffs anyway.

Our Souls: Bad news, you guys, because Tim Tebow lost. Naturally, that means that salvation will escape even the most penitent man (or woman). Or, alternately, it's a reflection of the fact that when the Broncos turn the ball over a bunch and hand Tom Brady short fields, the Patriots are really tough to beat. I'm going with the latter.

Santonio Holmes: Really Santonio? You're going to catch a touchdown pass, put the ball on the ground, stand on it and then do a dance mocking the Eagles who are in the middle of pantsing you right out of the playoffs? Really? It's kind of ironic that Charley Casserly compared Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson to Holmes on Sunday morning, considering they've both picked up embarrassing unsportsmanlike penalties now.

Oakland Raiders
: Take a look at the playoff picture. (Now back to me.) You realize that the Raiders, who choked to the Lions with a 99-yard drive to close things out, would be tied with the Broncos and Jets at 8-6 if they'd held off Detroit? Because they would be, and they hold the tiebreaker against the Jets and they're just one game back of the Broncos in conference record (5-5 to 6-4). Just close baby.

Ben Roethlisberger's Ankle
: No one's tougher than Roethlisberger, but did you see what happened to him against Cleveland? He probably doesn't have any business stepping on a football field for another week or so, especially without starting center Maurkice Pouncey. But with the Ravens getting paddled on Sunday, the Steelers are in the hunt for the top seed in the AFC and a division title, so Ben almost has to play. Poor ankle.

These Questions Go To 11

Who's protecting Aaron Rodgers? Excellent question.(Getty Images)

1. Should the Packers be worried?
Yes -- but not in the sense about caring over an undefeated season. They should be worried because even though they're still going to get the No. 1 seed in the NFC and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, there's concern about how the offense performed without Greg Jennings and bigger concern about the performance of the offensive line and defense. A bad game from Aaron Rodgers and they can be sent home by anyone.

2. Is Johnny Knox OK?
That's the word on the street. The Bears wide receiver was taken to the hospital after a backbending hit that required him to be carted off the field. Fortunately, he's expected to have surgery to stabilize his vertebrae and according to reports his prognosis is good for a solid recovery.

3. Can the Eagles really still make the playoffs?
Somehow, yes. A lot of things need to happen, but it's not that crazy. 1) Philly wins out (duh), beating. 2) Dallas loses out, against Philly and at the Giants. The Giants go 1-1, losing to the Jets and beating Dallas. If those things happen, the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants will all finish 8-8 and Philly will win the NFC East through tiebreakers. *cues up Gary Wright*

4. What about the Chargers?
YES, THEM TOO. And they have two options -- either the Chargers can win out and the Broncos can lose out and the Bolts win the division. That's the "easy" way. Alternately, if the Jets lose out (against the Giants and Dolphins) and the Bengals can go 1-1 (losing to the Ravens) and the Chargers win out, they can make the playoffs as a wild card. Hope springs eternal in December and whatnot.

5. Should the Bears have called someone?
Yeah, and I'll go so far as to say Brett Favre could've been that guy. Marc Bulger might've made more sense from a perspective of knowing Mike Martz offense, but maybe he wasn't interested. Whatever, Caleb Hanie isn't getting it done.

6. Are the Texans cool with T.J. Yates?
Cool's a relative word, because there's really no excuse for a grizzled veteran of a rookie like Yates to get baffled by a Panthers defense that's running on fumes. Carolina's D showed up big time in Houston, but Yates made some pretty critical mistakes in the 28-13 loss and if Yates ends up with more passing attempts than Arian Foster and Ben Tate have rushing attempts combined, Houston probably lost the game.

7. Why did the Raiders use single coverage on Calvin Johnson?
Honestly, I have no idea. Johnson's the best wide receiver in the NFL and he walked out of a 28-27 win with 214 receiving yards a pair of teeters. It's one thing to trust your cornerback in coverage late in the game. It's another thing entirely to just throw caution to the wind and give the Lions an easy opportunity at going 98 yards for the win, which is what Oakland did Sunday. On the other hand, Darrius Heyward-Bey is starting to look like he could actually be a No. 1 receiver at times. That doesn't help the defensive scheming but it's something, right?

8. Should the Ravens be worried about their road record?
Hell yes they should. Baltimore's been unstoppable at home, rolling to a 7-0 record. On the road they've rolled over for lesser teams like the Jaguars, Seahawks and Titans. And now the Chargers. If Pittsburgh wins on Monday night, it's going to be really tough for the Ravens to land anywhere other than the fifth seed in the AFC, which means they're going on the road throughout the playoffs. And that probably means that the Ravens will be sitting at home in February.

9. Did Jim Caldwell save his job on Sunday?
I know Bill Polian reportedly said all Caldwell had to do was win one game, and the Colts did that by beating Tennessee 27-13 for their first victory on the season. But come on -- this team's going to draft their new franchise quarterback in April in Andrew Luck and Caldwell's not the guy that's going to train him to be Peyton Manning 2.0. Polian can pay lip service all he wants but having Manning/Luck on your roster is like sitting on pocket aces in the hold 'em game of finding a coach who wants to work somewhere with a franchise quarterback.

10. Are the Saints the best team in the NFC now?
If Greg Jennings is guaranteed to be out, if Aaron Rodgers offensive line is completely shredded, and if the game's in a dome ... then maybe, yeah. Drew Brees is as hot as it gets right now (and it's the right time to be hot) and he's going to crush Dan Marino's record for passing yards in a season -- he needs just 305 to break it. And that's in two games, so it's broken. But if (when?) the Saints have to go to Lambeau for the NFC Championship Game, it's a whole different ballgame and the Packers will have a couple weeks to get healthy too. If the Niners can stay afloat, the Saints don't have those luxuries.

11. Should you jump off the Tebow bandwagon?
No you shouldn't have. As mentioned above, the Broncos made some critical mistakes that put the Patriots in a good position to win. The hype was so out of control that it was easy to freak out when New England started rolling. This is a game that Denver should've been more competitive in, but turnovers and a strong defensive performance from the Pats doomed them. They won't see the same sort of challenges against a tepid Bills team that gave up 200 rushing yards to Bush Sunday.

Worth 1,000 Words


GIF O' THE WEEK

This contest was over as of about 6:00 p.m. ET when dog-riding monkeys started herding sheep in Denver.


Award Watch Worth Watching

I'm tempted to open up the MVP race here, but let's get real: it's still Rodgers, despite Brees going ape smell. But how about Offensive Player of the Year instead? Typically speaking, this awards goes to "the most productive person on the team without the best record" or something like that, but I think Brees, if he breaks Marino's record -- and holds it -- is starting to lock it down. But you could make a great case for Calvin Johnson (gobs of touchdowns), Tom Brady and Rodgers too.

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Posted on: December 2, 2011 11:32 pm
 

Marshawn Lynch runs for all the Skittles Thursday

Posted by Will Brinson



During Thursday night's game -- a 31-14 Seattle win over Philadelphia -- Seahawks running back provided Marshawn Lynch provided an incredible highlight with a Beast Mode-y 15-yard touchdown run.

Even if he somehow wasn't the biggest story to emerge from the game, Lynch's touchdown run, and the ensuing Skittle snack that followed it, drew a ton of attention. But not just on Twitter -- Skittles themselves took notice and decided to offer Lynch a gigantic taste of the rainbow.

According to Darren Rovell of CNBC, Skittles is offering Lynch a 24- month supply and a customized Skittles dispenser for his locker room thanks to the exposure he gave their brand on the NFL Network.

Lynch's Skittle habit borders on addiction; the running back said later he's been eating them ever since he was a kid, because his mother rewarded him for touchdowns with the delicious, multi-colored mini sugar bombs.

If Lynch keeps playing like he has so far the past five games -- 591 rushing yards and five touchdowns in that span -- Skittles is going to have to send more candy.

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Posted on: December 1, 2011 11:54 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 12:07 am
 

In dismal year, Eagles give terrible performance

Philadelphia continues to play poorly for Andy Reid (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

All week long, radio hosts have wondered about the hot seat of Andy Reid, and each time they ask me, I say, “No, I think Reid is fine. He’ll have to fire some of his assistant coaches, but he’ll survive because of his resume. And besides, if Reid is fired, it won’t be long before Philly fans miss him.”

I’m beginning to think I might be wrong.

The Eagles looked horrendous for most of their 31-14 loss to the Seahawks on Thursday night, and though I still believe Reid deserves another year (defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, I believe, does not), his team isn’t doing him any favors.

On the first play from scrimmage, Vince Young threw a disappointing interception (everybody on Twitter wrote at the same time: “Where in the hell was VY throwing?”), and Philadelphia struggled to get on track. Marshawn Lynch broke what seemed like a half-dozen Eagles tackles en route to his first touchdown run, and on his second, the gap vacated by Philadelphia’s defenders was immense.

The Eagles had a tough time stopping Lynch, the human Skittle-eating machine who rushed for 148 yards and two scores on 22 carries, and even quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (13 of 16, 190 yards, one touchdown) was efficient.

And then there’s DeSean Jackson. It’s hard to figure what’s running through his head lately. It’ll be tough, after all, to get paid a significant amount of money as a free agent when Riley Cooper is outplaying you. There’s been talk that the Eagles might simply franchise-tag him for next season and then trade him away, but at this point, Jackson isn’t giving his team much of anything. Including, it seems, much effort.

Though it was a touch unfair of the NFL Network to continue showing Jackson appear to ignore Young when the quarterback appeared to be trying to instruct Jackson -- we can’t really know if Jackson was truly ignoring him based on what we were shown -- but the fact he just sat there staring straight ahead while Young’s lips moved wasn’t the greatest PR move.

If it looks like you don’t care, it’s not the height of hyperbole to say that the people who could give him a ton of money also believe that he doesn’t care. That obviously doesn’t help his market value, especially when sideline reports said Jackson wasn’t talking to his teammates (he didn’t have a problem, though, talking to his old Cal buddy Lynch when Nnamdi Asomugha lay on the turf with an injury).

After the game, Philadelphia Inquirer beat writer Jeff McLane asked one of the Eagles what was up with Jackson? Responded the player: "He's f------ around." When he talked to the media afterward, Jackson said he was frustrated with losing but not with his role on the team. He also didn't want to talk about any dissension on the team. After taking a few of those questions, Jackson turned back into his locker and stopped speaking with reporters.

But Jackson is only one problem, and as we’ve seen for most of the season, the blame for the Eagles season can’t be placed on only one player or one unit or even one side of the ball. You have to believe at this point that it’s an atmosphere problem. The person in charge of that, of course, is Reid. Who will continue to face immense heat after this loss.

He still has time to save his job -- and I still think he should keep it -- but he’s also beginning to change my mind.

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Five questions (or more) with Fred Jackson

F. Jackson has helped lead Buffalo to a 3-0 record (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Fred Jackson rushed for 1,000-plus yards in 2009, but he still had to convince Bills management that he was better than Marshawn Lynch and the newly-drafted C.J. Spiller last year. He eventually won the starting job, and this year, he’s been one of the league’s hottest running backs, ranking fourth in the league with 303 rushing yards (6.4 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns.

But a journey to NFL stardom was not easy for Jackson. He spent four years at Division III Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and after graduation, he spent one season apiece in the National Indoor Football League, the United Indoor Football League and NFL Europe. A half-decade later, he’s one of the major reasons the Bills are 3-0 and in first place by themselves in the AFC East.

We caught up with Jackson on Wednesday, and we talked about his journey through Division III football and the minor leagues, what the Bills learned from last season and how Jackson is bucking the stereotype of the 30-year-old running back who’s got nothing left in the tank.

Previous Five Questions (or more):

Sept. 16: Actor/former Patriots DB Brian White

1.CBSSports.com: So, what the hell is going on in Buffalo?

Fred Jackson: You know, everybody is just preparing, doing what we expected. We had a lot of confidence coming back from the offseason. We had confidence in what we were capable of doing, because we were in a lot of close games last year, a lot of overtime games. We felt like should have won more games than we did.

CBS: But how do you have confidence when you weren’t winning those games? Isn’t there a difference between the confidence of knowing you have won games and the confidence of thinking you should have won games?

Jackson: We felt like we gave away games. We let some chances slip away from us. We knew we weren’t going to let that happen again this year. We were preparing to go out and finish those games.

CBS: But if you’ve never won those games, how do you know how to do it?

Jackson: It’s through experience. Being able to make catches when you need to, make the blocks when you need to, being in the right spots. This is (Ryan Fitzpatrick's) second year in this offense, and now he’s getting comfortable getting people in the right spots. As long as we have him standing on his feet, we can pick defenses apart. The offensive line are in their second year in this system, and they know where they’re supposed to be.

2. CBS: Beating the Patriots last week, that’s a huge statement. I think a lot of people -- myself included -- thought the Bills were a nice 2-0 story but would get smashed by New England. But with that win, how big of a hump was that for the Bills to get over?

Jackson: It’s definitely a big hump when you have to beat them to win this division. But it is just our third win of the season. We still have a lot of work to do. We’ve been down early to two good teams, and we can’t continue to play like that. There’s a lot of learning we can take from the last few weeks. But it’s definitely a big win, because it puts us one up on them in the division and it puts them own down to us. 

Jackson3. CBS: Your path to the NFL wasn’t exactly orthodox. I think if you mentioned Coe College to most people, they wouldn’t have a clue as to what you were talking about. How did you end up there?

Jackson: It was one of those things where my middle school coach, Wayne Phillips, used to be the head coach at Coe College. I had a great relationship with him, and he told me about it. I was a little guy coming out of high school. It was one of three opportunities I had, all Division III schools. I have a twin brother named Patrick, who started as a receiver and then became a DB, and it was a dream for us to play college ball together. Coe was that opportunity. And coach (Marv) Levy was an alum and I got to meet him and build that bridge. When he got a chance to come back and be the GM in Buffalo, he gave me a workout. I was fortunate enough to come in and take advantage of that. But yeah, there were not a lot of scouts hanging out at Coe.

CBS: You weren’t on the NFL’s radar screen after Coe, so you went to a couple of indoor leagues and NFL Europe. How did you finally attract Buffalo’s attention?

Jackson: I was fortunate to do three workouts when I came out of college for the Bears, the Broncos and the Packers. The guy with the Packers came out and told me, “We think you can play football, but we’re not willing to stick out our neck for a guy from a DIII school." He told me to continue to get film and to keep playing in these smaller leagues. That’s what I did. After hearing they thought I did have the talent, that lit that fuse. The two years I played in the indoor leagues, I kept in touch with coach Levy. He kept saying if he could give me a chance, he would.

CBS: Oh, so even though you were out of school, Levy still gave you that positive reinforcement?

Jackson: My middle school coach and coach Levy are really good friends. Every month I would hear from coach Levy. I thought as long there was a chance, I would keep working.

4. CBS: So, you were with the Bills for a while, and then last year, it seemed like you finally … I don’t want to say “secured” your spot … were in a good spot with the team after Marshawn Lynch went to Seattle and you beat C.J. Spiller out for the starting job. Did you feel that?

Jackson: It was one of those things where I really didn’t know. We did draft C.J. last year. I knew I had to keep working and keep working, even at the beginning of the year when I had my hand broken. I had to keep plugging away at it. I was accustomed to working and seeing how things work out afterward. But C.J. still wants to play, and he still wants to start. That’s what we’re here for. I expect nothing less of him.

5. CBS: So, the saying goes that when a running back hits 30 years old, there’s a huge decline in skills. You’re 30 now, but you obviously haven’t hit that decline. How have you avoided that?

Jackson: It‘s one of those things I pride myself on. I don’t feel there’s any deterioration at all. I feel like I’m just getting better. I’m finally getting that opportunity where I can showcase what I can do. This is one of the first times I’ve been where I’ve been the starting guy. I feel fine. I feel great. I feel like I could play for another seven or eight years. I’m not some 30-year-old back on the downside.

CBS: I’m not asking you to comment on a guy like Larry Johnson, but he’s an example of what can happen when you hit 30 years old. He's pretty much done and now on the tryout circuit. Do you think not taking that NFL pounding when you were 24 or 25 years old is the reason you don’t feel old at 30?

Jackson: I think that has a lot to do that. I didn’t get 300 carries my first three years in the game. I’m getting fresh in it. I’m where a 26- or 27-year-old back usually is.

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Posted on: August 30, 2011 8:59 am
 

Williams showed Saints Marshawn TD for motivation

Posted by Will Brinson

In the opening round of last season's playoffs, the Saints traveled out west to play the Seahawks in the Wild-Card round. The results were anything but predictable, as Seattle -- double-digit dogs at home in the playoffs and a 7-9 division winner -- shocked New Orleans right out of contention for a Super Bowl repeat.

The most memorable moment of the game? Marshawn Lynch rumbling to the end zone for an earth-shaking (literally!) touchdown.

Clip of Beast Mode's run, which was as embarrassing for the Saints defenders as it was awesome for Lynch and the Seahawks, is now serving as motivational fodder for Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as New Orleans prepares for the season.

"It was classic Gregg Williams," cornerback Tracy Porter told Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports. "He wanted to give us that motivation coming into this year. He didn't want us to come into the season not knowing we had a bad taste in our mouth. He showed that [play], and it definitely put us on edge.

"Now it's time for payback."

Needless to say, the clip of Lynch's run isn't too popular around the Saints training camp -- rookie defensive end Cameron Jordan said that "around here, it's blasphemy" to talk about the run. (Or, more accurately, how he told his Twitter followers to vote for the fellow former California star's run during an awards show.)

And it's unlikely that anyone who played for the Saints in 2010 will ever like to see the highlight of Lynch plowing through an entire defense en route to the end zone.

But if the Saints defense can rebound to their 2009 level as a result of Williams' motivational ploy, it'll probably be a little easier to stomach.

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Posted on: March 27, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: New Orleans Saints

Posted by Will Brinson

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:





The 2010 Saints, by virtue of the way the 2009 Saints ended their season, were a disappointment. Not a disappointment in the way most season-after Super Bowl champs end up, of course, but a disappointment nonetheless. 

Things could have been different had the defending champs been more prepared for a Seahawks team that shocked the world with their postseason upset, the biggest surprise of which was their ability to actually score 41 points. Of course, things would have been different if their division hadn't markedly improved as well -- the Buccaneers nearly made a playoff run and the Atlanta Falcons' success in 2010 has already been well-chronicled. 

That means, too, that the division won't be getting any easier in the future. Fortunately for the Saints, their championship window -- Drew Brees turned 32 shortly after the Saints loss to Seattle -- is wide open for a few more years, with the right additions in the offseason.



Running Game, Defense

It was all but impossible for the Saints to repeat the success they had on defense in 2009, when the team generated a ridiculous 39 turnovers. That's not because Gregg Williams' defense is gimmicky or anything. It's because generating almost 2.5 turnovers per game doesn't involve just good gameplanning and skill; it also involves a little bit of luck. That same luck didn't return for New Orleans in 2010, as they created just 25 turnovers (which is still a respectable, middle-of-the-pack number). 

Some more luck required in having a great season: health. And the Saints didn't stay healthy in 2010, at least with respect to the running game. By the time they were getting bounced by the Seahawks in the postseason, Sean Payton's crew was forced to trot out Julius Jones for 15 carries. That's a clear-cut sign that things aren't going perfectly in your backfield.

There was another sign that some things weren't working right: Marshawn Lynch's (literally) earth-shaking run to the end zone that sealed the deal for Seattle. Give all due credit to Beast Mode for his ability to rumble on, around and through defenders, but it's also a microcosmic example of how the Saints need to find improvement in their run defense if they want to get back to the Super Bowl in 2011.



1. Running Back
It's entirely possible that the Saints could survive with a combination of Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Chris Ivory. In fact, if all of those guys are healthy, and Bush is willing to take a paycut, that's not too terrible a situation. One key thing to remember, though, is that the Saints were an elite rushing team when they won the Super Bowl. In 2010? Not so much. It seems pretty unlikely that New Orleans would burn an early pick on a running back -- unless Mark Ingram happens to slip -- but don't be surprised if they take a look at some depth for the position when the draft rolls around.

2. Outside Linebacker
The Saints don't exactly have the most amazing defensive personnel on the front seven, and even though Jonathan Vilma's a big name, he's not high-caliber enough to warrant giving the Saints a pass on their linebacking corps. Adding a pass-rusher from edge and some speed and pursuit skills from the linebacker position -- think Akeem Ayers possibly? -- could do a lot to improve a defense that's shown significant holes against the run in recent years.

3. Defensive End
Shaun Rogers' presence via free agency could be a HUGE improvement for this defensive line. (Alternately, it could also be a tremendous bust and/or he might not stay healthy.) Either way, expect the Saints, if they don't look linebacker in the first round, to target some help for the defensive line. Will Smith is aging, Rogers isn't going to be a staple, and this team needs some youth on the defensive front. Given that this is one of the deepest defensive line draft classes we've seen in a while, it would make a lot of sense to pick up value late in the first round.



It's a good thing to be a team like the Saints, who face a substantial amount of scrutiny thanks to their success in recent years. Really, the Payton Era for New Orleans has been about as successful as one could hope -- a .613 winning percentage and a Super Bowl win for a team that struggled for many a year is a pretty incredible feat.

It's also a good thing to look at a roster -- in the case of the Saints -- and be able to identify two very specific problems on the roster, both of which can be tweaked, in order to get right back to a championship run. In the Saints case, they have that non-problem problem, and you can expect them to address it during the offseason and get right back to winning games in 2011. 

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Posted on: March 25, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2011 12:49 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Seattle Seahawks

Posted by Josh Katzowitz



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups . Also, check out our checkup podcast:





The Seahawks were subjected to much ridicule when they became the first team in playoff history to enter with a losing record (for that, we can thank the incredibly weak NFC West – not to mention the Rams, who fell to the Seahawks in Week 17 in a game that would have allowed St. Louis to win the division with an 8-8 mark).

But then, Seattle immediately thumbed its nose – and indirectly taunted the Giants and Buccaneers, both of whom missed the playoffs with 10-6 records – at the NFL by beating New Orleans (we can talk all day about how Seattle had an unfair advantage by getting to host an 11-5 team, but Seattle outclassed the Saints big time).

Seattle was a weird team to observe last season. The Seahawks were either pretty good (wins against the Chargers and the Bears attest to that), or they were absolutely horrid (remember the 33-3 loss to the Raiders and the 41-7 defeat to the Giants in consecutive weeks?). I never really got a handle on which Seattle team was going to show up each week, and I still couldn’t tell you whether the Seahawks were a good team last year. I kind of lean toward no, though.




Future franchise QB, Too much change

Matt Hasselbeck could return for another season, and honestly, that wouldn’t be a terrible decision, because he was decent enough last year for a 35-year-old quarterback. But his backup Charlie Whitehurst – who the Seahawks traded for last season – simply has not proved he’s a quality starter, and while third-stringer J.P. Losman started in Buffalo, there’s a pretty good reason he’s not doing it there anymore.

It seemed like coach Pete Carroll has turned over the roster about 15 times since he took over as head coach, and he’s lost a few assistants. At some point, there needs to be some roster and staff consistency, doesn’t there?



1. Franchise QB
Could Philadelphia’s Kevin Kolb be that quarterback? The Seahawks would have to give up, at the very least, a first-round draft pick (and probably a mid-round pick as well) in order to trade the Eagles, but Kolb could very well be the guy to replace Hasselbeck. Emphasis on the word “could” because Kolb, as far as I’m concerned, still has much to prove as a starting QB. And if Seattle doesn’t get Kolb (and can’t re-sign the unrestricted free agent Hasselbeck), what the heck happen

2. Offensive consistency
wks fired offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates after just one season, probably because they averaged less than 300 yards of total offense per game and perhaps because they thought they could get Josh McDaniels to take that job. Instead, they hired former Vikings offensive coordinator Darren Bevell to replace Bates and former 49ers head coach Tom Cable as the OL coach. Maybe that will work. And if not, Carroll won’t have a problem looking for a replacement.

3. Cornerback help
Seattle allowed 11 passes of 40-plus yards last year, and though that wasn’t necessarily always the fault of the 30-year-old Marcus Trufant and the underwhelming Kelly Jennings, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Seattle takes a defensive back in the first round of the draft. The top-two CBs in the draft (Prince Amukamara and Patrick Patterson) surely won’t be around by the time the Seahawks pick at No. 25, but Colorado’s Jimmy Smith is a definite possibility.




For a playoff team, the Seahawks have soooooo much room to improve. RB Marshawn Lynch (who, you’ll recall, did this against the Saints) was serviceable after landing in the Pacific Northwest, and Seattle signed WR Mike Williams to a three-year extension near the end of the season. But the offensive line needs help (the team has used 15 (!) players on the left side of the line in the past three years), and the Seahawks could forgo a cornerback and draft a lineman in the first round.

That said, remember the Seahawks play in the weakest division in football. So, you could mark them down as favorites to win the NFC West, and you actually have a pretty good chance of being correct. But this team, like last year’s squad, could be very flawed. And it might not be very good.

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Posted on: January 14, 2011 11:15 am
Edited on: January 14, 2011 11:16 am
 

Hot Routes 1.14.11: Breaking down Lynch



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • The Seattle Times breaks down Marshawn Lynch’s now-famous 67-yard TD run vs. the Saints. All eleven Seahawks who were on the field for that play were interviewed for this story. Good stuff if you like to know the inside scoop of what was happening during a specific play.
  • Speaking of Fox, at least one of his former players in Carolina said the Broncos will love their new head coach.
  • Fox Sports’ Adam Caplan breaks down where Cam Newton will go in the 2011 NFL Draft.
  • Terrell Suggs resumed his regular Tom Brady bashing on Sirius Mad Dog Radio Thursday. Of Brady’s three Super Bowl rings Suggs said, “He’s got the tuck rule incident and you got the videotaping of other teams’ practices. It’s like “Oh, OK what’s going on here?’"
  • NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora reports that former Bills coach Dick Jauron will get a look at becoming Pat Shurmur’s defensive coordinator in Cleveland.
  • The drug charges against former Chargers safety Kevin Ellison have been dropped, and now he’s hoping he can return to the NFL and “show teams who I am again.” Apparently, he’s NOT the kind of guy who walks around with 100 Vicodin pills in his pocket without a prescription.

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