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Tag:Stevie Johnson
Posted on: November 28, 2011 5:35 pm
 

Gailey won't discipline Johnson, who texted Plax

Posted by Will Brinson


During Sunday's game against the Jets -- a 28-24 loss by Buffalo -- Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson made what he called "a bad decision" when he decided to mock Plaxico Burress for shooting himself in the leg during a touchdown celebration. (See: above.)

Johnson's all but sure to hear from the NFL about his touchdown celebration in the form of a fine, and considering he cost his team 15 yards by falling to the ground, there was a chance that Bills coach Chan Gailey might discipline Johnson as well. But that's not the case as Gailey said on Monday he wouldn't punish the wideout.

"The league handles all of that. I don’t have to worry about all that. The league handles the discipline part of it," Gailey said Monday. "The question you always ask yourself, it’s always the question of if I have benched everybody for every dumb mistake that was made there wouldn’t be any coaches or players out there because we’ve all made dumb mistakes. I try to address it, make sure everybody understands exactly the impact it has on the team and then do you sit there and say are we going to punish the team or are we going to punish the person? Who are you going to punish?
Week 12 Recap

"That’s always the question. These are men. They’ve got to understand exactly what’s at stake and they’ve got to understand actions reap consequences and consequences affect the team."

Gailey also added that Johnson's decision to mock Plaxico's shooting incident "bothered" the coach because he doesn't think other players should "make fun of people."

Plus, making fun of people you work with and play twice a year comes with the bad side effect of creating an awkward personal situation. So it's good to hear that Johnson apologized to Plax.

"I didn’t talk to him on the phone. I just shouted a text message," Johnson said Monday. "He responded and everything’s cool. It’s an unfortunate situation with me being immature like that. I talked to him and he responded and it was cool."

Johnson's celebration, as noted in Monday's Sorting the Sunday Pile, isn't the bigger issue with his game. The fact that he proceeded to drop other balls and potentially cost his team a win is the bigger problem.

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Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:21 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 1:38 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 12

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 10 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

 
(Ed. Note: Monday's podcast will be up around lunch due to some travel/family stuff.)

1. Run Like Hell -- Er, Heck

Every week, Tim Tebow takes the field as the Broncos quarterback, and every week everyone sits around and snarks at the Broncos running the ball an obscene number of times. Sunday's 16-13 overtime victory in San Diego featured Tebow toting the rock a ridiculous 22 times.

Just for some historical perspective, Tebow's now the only player in post-merger NFL history to attempt 20 rushes and 10 passes in a single game.

People rip the guy for ruining the quarterback position, or not playing it in a "real" way, but everyone very conveniently ignores three factors. One, he can make throws -- a pair of touchdown strikes to Eric Decker in the past two weeks were the difference between 2-0 and 0-2. Two, Tebow simply doesn't turn the ball over. Only 22 quarterbacks since 1970 have finished the year with 250-plus passing attempts, less than five picks and less than five fumbles. Tebow could be No. 23. (Aaron Rodgers could be No. 24.)

And most importantly, the Broncos have a strong running game with Willis McGahee, and an even stronger defense that no one wants to give credit to. If someone else, like a Brad Johnson-type, is quarterbacking this team, the defense gets all the credit. Because it's Tebow, that's the focus.

That's just how it is, and that's fine. After all, Tebow's now beaten every single AFC West rival this season on the road. He is a story. He is the story.

But maybe -- with all due acknowledgement of the silliness involved in "clutchability" -- it shouldn't be all that surprising that Tebow and the Broncos bested Norv Turner and the Chargers in the fourth quarter and overtime. Eking out victories from teams willing to hand over a win thanks to silly mistakes is the modus operandi of the 2011 Broncos, and giving away wins with silly mistakes is what Turner's Bolts teams do best.

San Diego's now last (!) in the AFC West and the only bright spot to this season, outside of Ryan Mathews emerging as a viable feature back if he can stay healthy, is the likelihood of Turner being shipped out of town following this season. You can like or dislike Turner all you want, and he's turned Philip Rivers into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but this Chargers team needs some fresh blood.

Denver's one game back of the playoffs thanks to holding a tiebreaker over the Jets, and they've got the tiebreaker over the Bengals too. A game-managing quarterback plus a running game plus a stout defense has had success in the NFL before.

So if you're still hating on Tebow, just quit and enjoy the ride.

2. Bear Down, Again

Ignore for a second the fact that Bears starting quarterback Caleb Hanie doesn't even know how to properly spike the ball at the end of the game. And ignore that he finished 18 of 36 with three interceptions on the day in Chicago's 25-20 loss to Oakland Sunday.

Because the Bears are still going to make the playoffs. Or, at least, they can.

As noted last week, Chicago's still got a very Chicago formula for making it to the postseason, with Devin Hester on special teams (kudos to Hue Jackson and Shane Lechler for avoiding him Sunday) and a defense that sacked Carson Palmer four times Sunday and limited the Raiders to just a single touchdown.

That type of play will go a long way against opponents like the Seahawks, Vikings, Chiefs and Broncos, all of whom are on Chicago's schedule the rest of the way in. And a quick look at our 2011 NFL Playoff Race Tracker reveals that only two worthy teams in the NFC will actually be shut out of the postseason (the Lions and the Giants are currently odd men out).

I'm not a huge fan of moral victories, especially when an actual loss reveals just how poorly your backup quarterback can play. And don't get me wrong -- Hanie has plenty of flaws and won't make things easy for Chicago the rest of the way. But if you're the Bears, you have to believe Sunday's showing means a playoff berth is still possible.

3. T.J. Yates: An All-Time Great

The case of T.J. Yates is a weird one. Thanks to a (likely) season-ending injury to Matt Leinart, Yates appears to be the de facto starter in Houston and, as Pete Prisco pointed out in his grades column, next in line to suffer a nasty injury as a result of the football gods really not wanting the Texans to smell success.

But you know what makes Yates' case even weirder? He's probably the most successful NFL quarterback in North Carolina Tar Heel history, despite being a rookie, having never started a game and despite having accumulated his career passing numbers -- 8/15 for 70 yards and no touchdowns -- on Sunday in backup duty.

That's because the only other option for "top NFL quarterback in UNC football history" is Scott Stankavage, who played in four games over two NFL seasons with the Broncos (three in 1984) and the Dolphins (one in 1987) and managed to complete 32 percent of his 25 attempted passes for 66 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. (In fairness, Yates is also one of only two UNC quarterbacks drafted since the merger, which is insane.)

His entire career wasn't as successful as Yates' Sunday afternoon in Week 12.

4. "Fire Who?"

The fans want it, as evidenced by the Eagles crowd raining "Fire Andy" chants on the field amid New England's 38-20 shellacking of Philly.

"The way we played, I can understand," Reid said afterward.

It's never easy to sympathize with any supporter of Philly sports, mainly because they're too vitriolic in their reaction. (There's a reason the battery-throwing, Santa Claus-booing stereotype exists.) And it's real easy to laugh at the Eagles plight, especially after they "won the offseason" with a ton of free-agent moves and name-brand signings.

But suggesting that the Eagles should dump Reid is silly, especially when there's a smarter path to success.

1) Fire Juan Castillo. This is coming anyway, you gotta think, and it's not that unreasonable. 2) Re-work the defensive scheme. Hire someone who can take the incredibly talented defensive group Philly has and actually utilize them properly. 3) Dump DeSean Jackson. He's ridiculously talented, but Jackson's got the look of a guy who's wrecking this locker room with contract and attitude problems. (Or maybe, as Clark Judge wrote Sunday, he's a symptom of a larger problem. Either way, he's not helping and he's not happy.) 4) Draft/trade/sign linebackers, safeties and offensive linemen in the offseason and actually address weaknesses.

This isn't an "easy" solution, of course. But this Eagles team has too much talent and Andy Reid's got too much success in Philly to simply blow everything up because the Dream Team experiment went awry in the first season.

He's also inherently tied to Philly's franchise quarterback, Michael Vick. One more bad year from both guys and it might be worth discussing a change, but just because Philly fans are naturally angry doesn't mean Eagles management should have a naturally knee-jerk reaction to 2011.

5. Why So Serious?

There's no reason to sit here and get in an uproar over Stevie Johnson's touchdown celebration against the Jets, in which he mocked Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes by pretending to shoot himself in the leg and then crash a plane. (Besides, Bob Costas' "get off my lawn" Sunday night halftime rant took care of that.)

I like the move, because it's a big-time slap in the face to the Jets, the Bills need some swagger, and as long as you back up your trash-talk, do what you want.

The problem with Johnson's TD is that as soon as he pulled off a celebration mocking a pair of wideouts on the other team, his game went in the toilet. (Stop me if this sounds familiar.)

Look, I think Johnson's an awesome talent and a great dude and if I'm in charge of meting out discipline, someone who landed a helmet-to-helmet hit on Sunday is washing Johnson's white t-shirt collection, just because his celebrations are hysterical.

But if you're going to publicly mock a colleague for literally shooting himself in the foot, you can't turn around and spend the rest of the game figuratively doing the same thing to yourself and your team, which is precisely what Johnson did when he egged on a would-be game-winning touchdown catch in the fourth quarter:



That's exactly why I refuse to get all amped up about whether what he did was right or wrong. Johnson will almost certainly be fined by the NFL. Johnson will -- as Mike Freeman's already noted -- be subject to league-wide and public scorn. And, most importantly, his team lost because after his premature celebration, the Jets wideouts were substantially better than Johnson was.

6. Shananigans

There's no chance that any other football journalist or fan or couch-bound pundit knows as much about managing a football team as Mike Shanahan. The man has two Super Bowl wins. Enough said.

But why on Earth did it take so long to get Roy Helu touches?

The Redskins rookie running back rumbled for 108 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and caught seven passes for 54 yards in Washington's surprise 23-17 comeback victory in Seattle Sunday.

This would be shocking, but Helu already set the franchise record for receptions in a game three weeks ago, and averaged five yards per carry more than Ryan Torain two weeks ago, so giving him the rock seemed obvious to everyone ... except Shanahan.

Seattle's rush defense is one of the best in the NFL (3.5 yards per carry allowed going in and coming out of the loss), so it's not like Helu was carving up the Panthers or Colts here.

The obvious reward for his impressive game on the ground and remaining Rex Grossman's most reliable target is a much-deserved, one-carry afternoon next week against the Jets. Don't say I didn't warn you, fantasy owners.

7. 0-Fer

The Colts became the first NFL team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, just minutes before the Rams were booted as well, thanks to their 27-19 loss to Carolina in Indy Sunday.

Everyone knew they were already eliminated, of course, and everyone knows they'll land the top-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but the big question is, can the 2008 Detroit Lions keep their bottles of Andre on ice for the time being?

Probably not -- Indy looks like a pretty good lock to finish the season at 0-16, based on their remaining schedule.

First up in Week 13 is New England (in Foxboro) and there's no reason to spend time wondering if Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will get trapped against a one-time arch-rival in a free "kick 'em while they're down" game. They won't. At Baltimore in Week 14 should be a lock for a double-digit blowout too. The Ravens have stumbled against bad teams, but not at home, and no one's had a defense as bad as Indy.

Tennessee (Week 15) and Houston (Week 16) at home shouldn't present challenges for Indy when it comes to losing either, considering that both teams appear to have capable rushing attacks. Even if Chris Johnson still looks like he's wading through a giant jar of jelly when he hits the hole, he's been effective against bad rushing defenses this year.

That leaves at Jacksonville in Week 17, and which isn't even their best chance at being favored (read: getting more than a 50 percent chance of winning from Vegas). That will be Tennessee, but the Titans will still be favored by at least three points in Indy, like the Panthers were.

And none of the remaining teams on the schedule have a defense nearly as bad as the Panthers, which means there's a 60-plus percent chance Indy goes winless this year. At least.

8. Rookie of the Year Race

Fortunately, we get to honor a Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL. Because otherwise, we might have a big old heated argument about who the most deserving rookie in 2011 is. Last week, I threw my [substantial only in the literal sense] weight behind Andy Dalton leaping past Cam Newton for the top rookie, but now I'm not so sure.

That's not because Cam went bananas in a win on Sunday so much as it was Dalton only beating the Browns because he's got another rookie -- wideout A.J. Green -- on his team, who might secretly be the best option for the award on the Bengals roster.

Cincy remained in playoff contention -- they're currently the No. 6 seed -- thanks to Green making big catches to set up scores all day.

On the defensive end of things, Von Miller continued to state his case for ROY honors with 10 total tackles and another sack. And what about Patrick Peterson, who returned a fourth punt return for a TD on the year? Dude's defensive improvement is underrated so far this year, especially in a tough situation, and it'll be interesting to see how his game-changing impact on special teams will rate for voters -- three of his teeters have, literally, been game-winning scores.

9. A Quarterback League

Watching the Chiefs stifle the Steelers for much of the Sunday night game -- eventually won by Pittsburgh 13-9 -- was picture proof of how important having a good quarterback really is. Matt Cassel might have struggled against the Steelers defense, but Tyler Palko was absolutely miserable, going 18/28 for 167 yards and three picks.

The same can be said for Jacksonville, who knocked Matt Leinart out against Houston, but couldn't muster any sort of offense because no one would respect Blaine Gabbert, much less McCown.

Teams that don't have a good quarterback can still win by playing smart and running the hell out of the ball, but the Jaguars and Chiefs are great proof as to just how quickly a team can fade out relevancy as a result of lacking substantial skill under center.

The Jacksonville and Kansas City defenses have put their respective offenses in decent position to win games over the past couple of weeks, but an inability to move the ball resulted in a pair of losses for each squad. (Romeo Crennel's defensive scheming against Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger was particularly impressive, and even more depressing when you think about how badly it was wasted.)

Which is precisely why it's impossible to be too bullish about the playoff chances for teams like the Texans and the 49ers.

10. And the Oscar Goes To ...

Jerome Simpson for the flop of the NFL season. And maybe NFL history? It's hard to even call this a "storyline," because it's not. There's no epidemic of flopping hitting the NFL and Christian Ronaldo isn't going to be defecting any time soon.

But Simpson's flop, which you can watch here, is just too amazing to ignore.

Oh yes, and the Bengals snuck one out against the Browns, holding onto their sixth seed in the playoffs. They've got the look of a team that isn't quite ready to quit trying out this possible pipe dream of a postseason run, but if they play like they did against the Browns when they get the Steelers, Texans and Ravens over the next three weeks, it's hard to imagine them sneaking in with three 6-5 teams (Titans, Jets, Broncos) hanging out on the fringe.

And that flop wouldn't be nearly as pretty as Simpson's.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... Percy Harvin's 104-yard kick return that didn't produce a touchdown on Sunday was the longest non-scoring play in NFL history.
... Peterson is also the only player in NFL history with four punt return touchdowns of 80-plus yards or more in a season.
... And the Rams-Cardinals game was the first in NFL history to feature an 80-plus yard punt-return TD from each team.
... Cam Newton is just the fourth post-merger quarterback to rush for 10 touchdowns in a season, joining Steve Grogan, Kordell Stewart and Daunte Culpepper on that list.
... Chris Long recorded his 10th sack of the season, meaning he and dad Howie are just the second father-son combo to record double-digit sacks in a season in their career, along with Clay Matthews and his dad, Clay Matthews.
... The Bengals overcame a 10-point halftime deficit for the third time this season, tied for the most in NFL history, along with the 2011 Lions.
...

Worth 1,000 Words



GIF O' THE WEEK

There might be a better option, but watching Tim Tebow hit his X button two seconds too early and then get laid out is pretty entrancing.


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Norv Turner: Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune believes "no playoffs = no more Norv." So, probably no more Norv.
  • Jim Caldwell: If they go 0-16 and draft a new franchise quarterback, how can they carry over the same staff? They can't right?
  • Steve Spagnuolo: He just lost back-to-back games to Seattle and Arizona. Talk about a free-fall.
  • Jack Del Rio: It's a good rule of thumb that if you're flopping your first-round rookie for a McCown brother that your job is in trouble.
  • Tony Sparano: Even if he keeps winning, you gotta think Stephen Ross goes window shopping this offseason.

Chasing Andrew Luck

The Colts have all but locked up the Luck sweepstakes, and with the remaining schedules, we might as well take the numbers off the board. Congratulations for ruining a mini-feature in this column by Week 12, Curtis Painter. You jerk.

MVP Watch

Speaking of jerks, "tanks for nuthin'" Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has one more holiday game left -- a Christmas showdown with the Bears. And the Packers could still lose a game and maybe come back towards the Patriots (if Tom Brady stays hot?), but he's all but sewn up this award pretty early in the season.

Posted on: November 2, 2011 11:56 pm
 

Fred Jackson confident about getting deal done

Jackson

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Aside from Chicago’s Matt Forte -- who feels like the Bears are grinding him to a pulp -- the running back who’s most deserving of a raise is Buffalo’s Fred Jackson.

Forte is making a paltry $600,000 and is a free agent after this season, though a prime suspect to be franchised by Chicago, and he’s the league leader with 1,091 yards from scrimmage. Jackson, meanwhile, makes $1.75 million this year and is slated to earn $1.83 million in 2012, and he has accumulated 1,074 all-purpose yards.

It’s clear Forte is underpaid, but so is Jackson, and while the former gets nowhere in negotiations with his squad, the latter has apparently received assurances from his organization that it’ll make Jackson happy with a new deal.

According to 550 WGR radio, Jackson and Bills general manager Buddy Nix had a meeting three weeks ago, and now Jackson expresses his belief that a deal will get done eventually.

“He let me know that he was thinking about me, but they just had some other stuff that they had to take care of first,” Jackson said. “I've got a lot of faith in him and that's what I'll continue to do. Just put my faith in him and see what happens."

First, the Bills -- who already have re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick for six years and $59 million -- have to take care of Rian Lindell and offensive tackle Erik Pears. They’ll also have to decide if they want to re-sign receiver Stevie Johnson, who’s a free agent after this season.

But as we talked about Wednesday on the CBSSports.com experts chat (and Pete Prisco was outspoken about the issue), is it really worth it to pay running backs top-notch money? Our consensus: probably not.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 9:18 am
 

Report: Bills, Fitzpatrick close on new contract

The Bills have no plans of letting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick get away this offseason. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the former seventh-round pick out of Harvard who was destined for a life as an NFL backup quarterback, is close to getting a shiny new contract from the Bills. The two sides have made significant progress the past two weeks, according to multiple reports, and the hope is that a deal is in place shortly.

Buffalo is on their bye week, and the organization has closed the building through the weekend, which means that talks are temporarily on hold. Still, the 4-2 Bills owe much of their early-season success to Fitzpatrick, who has been one of the league's best quarterbacks (66.3 completion percentage, 1,477 passing yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs).

According to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora, Fitzpatrick's new contract is expected to pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million a season, "but the sides still were trying to resolve issues such as guaranteed money (the Bills traditionally keep those figures relatively low)."

ESPN's Chris Mortensen hears something similar, noting that Fitzpatrick's new contract should fall in the $9 million-to-$12 million range, and adds that the Bills QB is in the last year of a three-year, $6.9 million deal he signed as a backup. His base salary is $3.195 million for 2011 and "it's expected he will be paid at least in the range of Kansas City's Matt Cassel, who signed a six-year, $63 million contract with the Chiefs."

The annual salary is considered "second-tier" quarterback money, which is about where Fitzpatrick falls at this stage in his career. He's not yet elite, but certainly something more than just a reliable starter.


A full set of predictions for the 7th week of the season! Charles Barkley joins Cris Collinsworth, Phil Simms, and Warren Sapp for a super-sized web-exclusive from Inside the NFL.

After taking care of Fitzpatrick, expect the Bills to start working on new deals for wide receiver Stevie Johnson and running back Fred Jackson, two players who have blossomed under second-year head coach Chan Gailey. If Buffalo and Fitzpatrick can't come to an agreement, the organization almost certainly will franchise him in 2012.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 23, 2011 9:05 am
Edited on: September 23, 2011 10:31 am
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Stevie Johnson, Week 3 matchups

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

In this Friday preview podcast, we talk to Buffalo wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who helps set the stage for Sunday's Patriots-Bills game, a matchup between two undefeated AFC East teams. New England has won 15 consecutive meetings, though Buffalo's last win was a huge one: a 31-0 shellacking to open the season back in 2003, when Gregg Williams was the head coach and some guy named Drew Brees Bledsoe was the starting quarterback. The 2011 squad might be the best equipped to break the 15-game drought.

We also preview the other big weekend matchups, including Jets-Raiders, Texans-Saints, Ravens-Rams, the Gabbert-Newton Bowl, and the Sunday night showdown between the Steelers and Colts.

Finally, PredictionMachine.com's Paul Bessire stops by to offer up some expert advice on -- you guessed it -- accurately predicting this week's winners.

Talking starts promptly...

Hit the play button below to listen (and did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.


For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 2:16 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 3:23 pm
 

Film Room: Bills vs. Patriots preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



We’ll find out this Sunday just how "for real" the Bills are. It’s one thing to face unfamiliar foes from the iffy AFC West. It’s another to face the perennial bully of your own division. Before we forecast the matchup, let’s use the first four points to understand what these 2-0 teams are all about.

1. Patriots passing attack
The last time New England’s juggernaut offense was hitting on this many cylinders was 2007, when the rest of the NFL had no answer for Randy Moss over the top and Wes Welker underneath. New England runs a much different offense now than in those Josh McDaniels days.

Under McDaniels the Patriots in 2008 went 11-5 with Matt Cassel filling in for the injured Tom Brady. The system still worked because of the unique combination of Moss and Welker. If the Patriots were to lose Brady in their current system, they’d plummet to the middle of the AFC East. Virtually everything New England does is predicated on Brady’s unbelievable ability to diagnose a defense and set his feet before throwing.

Most NFL passing offenses are built on the quarterback anticipating where the receiver is going. The Patriots’ offense is essentially built on Brady seeing where the receiver is going before firing. The reason for this is New England’s heavy use of option routes.

The patterns that Patriot receivers, as well as their sensational young tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (who will miss this game with a knee injury), run often hinge on what the defense does. It’s up to the receiver to correctly assess the coverage – both presnap and on the fly – and choose his route accordingly. This is the premise of an option route.

Because of this, the Patriots don’t look for size and speed at wide receiver; they look for intelligence and precise route running. That’s why Wes Welker and Deion Branch, two classic role players, are stars here. They’re perfect for this system.

Option routes are designed to specifically exploit the weakness of a coverage. The reason other teams don’t run option routes nearly exclusively is because they take a split second longer to unfold, and other teams don’t have a quarterback who can make accurate throws a split second later in the down. Brady happens to have an unmatched ability to square his body and throw soundly with defenders around him.

It’s incredible – the guy has a quick, picturesque release, and you almost never see him throw off-balance. Even other superstars like Rodgers and Brees can’t quickly square up and fire under duress the way Brady can.


2. Buffalo’s quarterback
Since last season, the Bills have been higher on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick than any other team in football. There are rumors that the front office is looking to quickly sign the 28-year-old Harvard alum to a long-term deal before his market value skyrockets.

But how good is Fitzpatrick, really? Most of his supporters tout his grit. Praising a quarterback’s grit is like praising a girl’s personality. Even if the praise is justified and honest, it still feels backhanded because it implies the absence of more obvious (important?) physical attributes.

While Fitzpatrick is no Chad Pennington, he doesn’t have the world’s strongest arm. He can scramble and buy time with his feet, but he’s no Aaron Rodgers. And he reads a defense OK (he was phenomenal recognizing Oakland’s blitzes last week), but he’s no Peyton Manning. Most concerning is his occasionally erratic accuracy. Every game, poor accuracy costs him a few quality completions. And because he’s such a risk-taker, there’s an increased possibility that his inaccuracy translates to interceptions.

Don’t take this as “Fitzpatrick hating”. We only harp on his negatives because, these days, so many are highlighting his positives.

3. Chan Gailey’s adjustment
Even in the shortened offseason, the Buffalo Bills managed to drastically alter their offensive playbook. Prior to the season, we heard that Chan Gailey (who runs the offense) and Curtis Modkins (who coordinates the offense) would implement more spread formations. A lot of teams talk abot spreading out and being more aggressive, but the Bills have actually done it.

This is somewhat surprising because the Bills, especially after dumping Lee Evans, don’t seem to have the receiving personnel for this. None of their wideouts other than Roscoe Parrish – who is out for the season with an ankle injury – have great speed. And all of them are young.

However, through two games, Buffalo’s spread approach has worked marvelously. Stevie Johnson’s improvement as a route runner (he gets open late in his patterns extremely well) has compensated for his middling speed and made him a veritable No. 1 target. David Nelson, who’s a lanky 6’5” and has a newfound comfort for hauling in passes, has been a matchup nightmare both inside and out.

Donald Jones offers decent quickness off the line of scrimmage, and Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller (who, by the way, are both running with outstanding fluidity, especially on the perimeter) are capable of flanking out, which gives the Bills formation flexibility in their personnel packages.

Tip your cap to the historically power-run oriented Gailey for recognizing the direction that the NFL is going in and, at age 59, adjusting his philosophy accordingly.

4. The defenses: 4-3 or 3-4?
Both teams have run hybrid 3-4-slash-4-3 defense in recent years, not because they have versatile players or schemes but because they’ve been without a quality pass-rusher and have looked for creative (i.e. desperate) ways to manufacture pressure on the quarterback.

As it stands, neither team still has a quality rusher. Knee injuries have robbed Shawne Merriman of his burst and direction-changing ability. Merriman still has decent power, but without the movement prowess, he’s a shell of his former self. Opposite him, Chris Kelsay, though playing faster than usual this season, is not consistently dynamic. In New England, Bill Belichick is hoping elder newcomers like Shaun Ellis and Andre Carter can skim the edges on third down.

Despite feeble pass-rushing resources, both teams’ 3-4/4-3 ambiguity appears to be gone this season. Both made personnel moves that suggest a commitment to one system. The Bills spent the No. 3 overall draft pick on Marcel Dareus, a classic 3-4 end. So far, Dareus has shown intriguing power in shedding blocks, both laterally and in penetration. The Patriots traded for Albert Haynesworth, a classic one-gap tackle (just ask him) and have settled into a 4-3.

So far, Haynesworth has been a monster, but only in sub-packages. He must improve his endurance if he wants to be an everydown player like Vince Wilfork.

5. The Bills’ prayer
Do they have one this Sunday? They won’t be able to get pressure on Brady, so their best bet is to play coverage and hope for a timely turnover or two. That will be tough, though, as No. 1 corner Terrence McGee is out and his replacement, Leodis McKelvin, has struggled in man coverage.

Also, strong safety George Wilson, while stout in the box, is a slow runner with limited coverage skills. The Raiders took advantage of this with screen passes and underneath passing routes last week; the Patriots, with Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead, will have no trouble doing the same.

Thus, it’s on the Bills offense to control the tempo and shorten the game. Buffalo’s front five, coached by Joe D'Alessandris, has been phenomenal through two weeks. Center Eric Wood has the run-blocking movement skills of a Pro Bowler, while left tackle Demetrius Bell (whom yours truly has been very hard on the past few years) has shown good awareness and improved mechanics in pass protection.

A good front line is key to having a sustainable offense. But unless the Bills can work some magic on special teams, they won’t need a sustainable offense to have a chance Sunday…they’ll need a perfect one.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games.


Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: May 12, 2011 5:31 pm
 

Hot Routes 5.12.11: Chris Harris is just awesome

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Chris Harris of the Chicago Bears is a pretty chill dude, from what I know about him on Twitter. (Also, he was a Panther for a few years, so I was always a fan.) He seems to "get it" when it comes to online interaction, and if you hit him up on Twitter, he'll usually hit you back. Anyway, what he did for a Alex of Cheesehead.TV's father is pretty ridiculous. As you might guess, Alex is not a Bears fan. But his dad is, and via Twitter, page/GB">Packers+Lounge)">Alex was able to get Harris to ring up his dad on the old man's birthday.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 12:24 am
Edited on: December 22, 2010 9:32 am
 

Top Ten List with a Twist: NFL Twitter accounts

S. Andrews is the top tweeter in the NFL (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Sure, many of the updates on Twitter by NFL players and officials are insufferable. Telling us where they’re going to eat, telling us where they’re shopping, telling us to follow the Twitter account of their wife/brother/buddy/flavor of the month. Basically, you have to wade through piles of manure to find the single, solitary rose that makes it all worthwhile.

But those sweet-smelling flowers ARE out there. And they’re funny and interesting and thought-provoking and question-answering. Much of Twitter – similar to life, I suppose – is just not good and, frankly, a waste of time. But there are special souls out there who seem made for Twitter. And we were made to follow them.

Here is the Top Ten List with a Twist of the best NFL-related Twitter accounts.

10. Vikings P Chris Kluwe (@chriswarcraft): A late entry onto the list but surely shooting up the charts. Kluwe was the player who ripped the TCF Bank Stadium field the day before Minnesota played the Bears last Monday night. It was honest and refreshing. Until somebody asked him to stop. Best recent example: “I find it interesting that the NFL can claim an emphasis on player safety, and then tell us the field is fine. It's beyond hypocritical.”

9. Salarycap101 (@salarycap101): It’s a little Redskins-centric, probably because J.I. Halsell is a former salary cap analyst for Washington, and it’s mainly retweets. But from time to time, he comes up with some interesting salary figures, particularly when it relates to Albert Haynesworth. Best recent example: “As I mentioned back in November when McNabb's "extension" was done; the "commitment" shown by deal, truly was not a commitment at all.”

8. Pro Football Focus (@profootbalfocus): If you want strong analysis and sharp people who know how to watch film and interpret what it means, go to Pro Football Focus (only one ‘L’ in its Twitter handle). Impress your friends. Discourage your enemies. The guys at PFF will help you do both. Best recent example (on Ndamukong Suh): “It’s not nitpicking. They are major flaws in his play that are being ignored by most people. There's no reason to do so … There's nothing wrong with saying he's a massive talent, and potentially a dominant force for years, but flawed right now.”

7. Bills WR Stevie Johnson (@steviejohnson13): I think we all know why Johnson is on this list. Best recent example (after dropping a game-winning TD in Week 12): “I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO...”

6. Cardinals Darnell Dockett (@ddockett): Put it this way: the guy doesn’t mind creating controversy through the 140-character written word. Best recent example: “And don't come to my funeral empty handed, bring some crabs, krispy kreme, jeezy new CD. LO LO's chicken, oysters, and crayons!!”

5. George Atallah (@georgeatallah): He’s the NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs, and he’s been very active lately, detailing the players’ side in the labor dispute. And he’s pretty witty as well. A couple days ago, he conducted a Twitter chat, which was pretty cool. Best recent example: “#NFLPA & #NFL proposed a resolution on rookie $. If that were a key to negotiations, we'd have a deal by now. Our proposal was rejected.”

  4. Colts owner Jim Irsay (@jimirsay): This account comes off, well, a bit weird, because in many – if not most – of his posts, he’s quoting the lyrics to some rock song. But it’s entertaining, because it’s so psychedelic. Best recent example(s): “Ladykiller,Regulation tattoo,silver spurs on his heels."What can I tell ya,as I'm stand'in next 2 U,she threw herself under my wheels!!!"..” and “I understand my own Tweets 80 per cent of the time...the other 30 per cent...I'm just as confused as you!!!!”

3. Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco (@oC. Ochocinco has quite a presence on Twitter (US Presswire). chocinco): Fans love him because he was one of the first NFLers to really embrace Twitter and because he’s prone to inviting his fans to Friday night movies and then paying the admission for everybody who shows up. Best recent example: “OchoHarmony.com First dating site where you don't have to deal with the full headache, you can return them back before they become a problem.”

2. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello (gregaiello): The fact the NFL PR department has made it a priority to talk directly to the people, well, that’s outstanding. More than 13,000 followers agree. He’s also prone to poetry. Best recent example: “Monday Night Haiku: ‘In the stands with fans/Raw, cold, real community/Nothing like football.’”

1. Giants LT Shawn Andrews (@imshawnandrews): I first noticed Andrews’ tweets when he was in the hospital with back problems, and he updated his followers constantly about how hungry he was (if I remember correctly, there was talk about eating the pigeons that mocked him from outside his window). Quite frankly, this dude is hilarious. I don’t know what he’s like in real life, but he’s quite funny in print (which is not easy, mind you). By far, he’s my favorite NFL-related twitterer. Best recent example(s): “If u ever sprayed cologne up in the air & danced in it & then hoppd out real quik out for fear of putting too much on. #YouJustLikeMe” and “If u want a kick-butt Quesadilla try Moe's.... So bad when I have to sneak bites of my son's... #ImSoFat” and “All I want for Christmas/Birthday is for 5 Guys (Burgers & Fries) to announce me as the New 6th Guy...... I'll come off the bench #ImSoFat” and “If you've ever had to take a shower w/ a handtowel cause u aint have any clean washcloths. #YoureJust like me That sucka get heavy don't it?”

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