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AFC Sunday Recap

September 15, 2014 in NFL, NFL Preview

Week 2 still has the Monday night affair between the Colts and Eagles but 15 of the 16 contests have been completed. Ironically, seven teams remain unbeaten while seven teams remain winless. The 12 playoff teams from a season ago are a combined 12-10 (6-5 in each conference). The biggest stat that seemed to be most prevalent heading into the week pertained to teams that were in danger of falling to 0-2 on the short season. History has shown that teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game. But that doesn’t mean an 0-1 start is impossible to overcome as nearly 25 percent of teams that lost the opener went to the playoffs.

Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule (and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982): Of the 523 teams which won opener, 274 went to the playoffs and 164 won division titles. Of the 524 teams which lost the opener, 124 went to the playoffs with 70 winning the division.

At the end of Week 2, no more than 13 teams will be able to claim a perfect 2-0 record, leaving at least 19 clubs at 1-1 or 0-2. Since realignment in 2002, 86 of the 144 playoff teams (59.7 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including five of the eight division champions in 2013 – Carolina (NFC South), Cincinnati (AFC North), Green Bay (NFC North), Indianapolis (AFC South) and Philadelphia (NFC East).  A look at how playoff clubs in 2012 and 2013 began their seasons:

Here are some key stats from today’s AFC winners:

Bills (2-0) 29 Dolphins (1-1) 10:

The Dolphins offense had no answer for the Bills defense in the first half. The unit had three sacks and didn't allow the Dolphins to cross the 50-yard line. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times and tossed one INT.  Bills starter, EJ Manuel, who missed both games against Miami last injury due to injury was an efficient 16 for 26 for 202 yards and one touchdown.

Last week Bills RB Fred Jackson made the big play with a 38-yard run in overtime to set up the winner, today it was CJ Spiller. Following a Caleb Sturgis field goal which cut the Bills lead to six points, Spiller returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest of his career. His only other kickoff return touchdown came in Week 3 of his rookie season in 2010 against the New England Patriots.

Patriots (1-1) 30 Vikings (1-1) 7

The Vikings started strong without their deactivated star running back Adrian Peterson but the Patriots, who had been outscored 30-0 over the last two and a half quarters going back to last week woke up and scored 30 unanswered points to salvage a 1-1 start to the 2014 season. QB Tom Brady was average at best but his defense was outstanding. The Pats registered six sacks, four interceptions of Matt Cassel and a blocked field goal for a touchdown. The win was the 200th for HC Bill Belichick.

Bills sacked Tannehill 4 times on Sunday

Bills sacked Tannehill 4 times on Sunday

RB Matt Asiata had only 36 yards on 13 carries in place of Peterson, who was deactivated after being charged with child abuse Friday in Texas. The Patriots let Miami rush for 191 yards last week in a season-opening loss, but they held the Vikings to 54 yards on 19 attempts without Peterson.

The pass-run ratio last week for the Patriots was 60-20 in a shaky loss at Miami, but they established a much better balance here. Stevan Ridley carried 25 times for 101 yards, and Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes wasn't able to keep up with Julian Edelman, who finished six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.

The Patriots revamped secondary held the speed of the Vikings receivers in check. Matt Cassel was 0-for-8 with three interceptions on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield. Cassel only attempted three throws deeper than 10 yards downfield (1-3, 18 yards) in Week 1. Cassel is the first quarterback in ESPN Stats & Info's data set (since 2006) to start Week 1 and 2 without completing multiple attempts deeper than 10 yards downfield.

Browns (1-1) 26 Saints (0-2) 24:

The Browns (1-2) broke an eight-game losing streak in home openers, while the Saints (0-2) lost their first two game for the first time since the 2012 "bounty" season in which coach Sean Payton was suspended.

Drew Brees must not like playing against the Browns. The Browns upset the Saints 30-17 the last time the two teams met in Week 7 of 2010. In that game, Brees threw 4 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for TD. While he wasn’t that bad today, he wasn’t good enough to outduel Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer, who was very good today, especially at crunch time. The numbers won’t dazzle but he was marvelous in the clutch, moving the Browns from their own 4 to the New Orleans 11, allowing Billy Cundiff to hit the 29-yard game winner with .03 seconds to play. Hoyer completed several big passes on the final drive, including one on fourth down to tight end Gary Barnidge and a 28-yarder to Andrew Hawkins with 13 seconds to go. In all, he was 8 of 11 for 78 yards on the last drive and finished 24 of 40 for 204 yards and a TD. He came out for a few plays as Manziel, the hyped rookie, handed the ball off twice and had one incompletion.

With starting tight end Jordan Cameron and running back Ben Tate both inactive, Cleveland's backups at tight end and running back stepped up on Sunday. Terrence West had 90 yards from scrimmage Sunday, the first running back with at least 90 yards from scrimmage in his first two games since Chris Johnson and Matt Forte in 2008. Hoyer consistently got production from his backs and tight ends in the passing game as well.

Drew Brees finished 10-of-13 for 118 yards, two touchdowns and an interception targeting Jimmy Graham. Five other Saints had three catches in the game, but no one had more than that. Drew Brees' interception was returned 62 yards by Tashaun Gipson for a touchdown. It was his first pick-six since Week 2 of last season against the Buccaneers. Brees has had 10 interceptions returned for TDs in the last five seasons, three of which came in two games against the Browns.

Bengals (2-0) 24 Falcons (1-1) 10:

460xThe Cincinnati Bengals took care of business at home on Sunday, with a dominating presence on both sides of the ball. Cincinnati's 24-10 win over Atlanta marks the third-time (2005, 2006) that the Bengals have started the season 2-0 during the Marvin Lewis era.

A week after shredding the Saints, Matt Ryan, and the Falcons passing game was shut down by the Bengals secondary. Ryan finished 4-of-9 for 79 yards and two interceptions on throws at least 15 yards downfield, his first game with multiple interceptions on deep throws since Week 8 of last season. Ryan was 5-of-12 for 45 yards and an interception against at least five pass rushers Sunday (3.8 yards per attempt). Ryan averaged 7.2 yards per attempt last week against the Saints (7-of-12, 86 yds. TD).

A.J. Green left in the 1st quarter with a toe injury. Sunday marks the 1st time Green's been active and didn't record a catch. However, the Cincy rushing attack picked up the slack. Led by Giovani Bernard, who ran 27 times for 90 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown. He also caught a team-high five passes for a career-high 79 yards, including a 46-yard catch-and-run when Dalton flipped the ball to him as he was getting hit. The Bengals wound up with 472 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per play. Rookie Jeremy Hill ran for 74 yards and a touchdown, and the Bengals rushed for 170 overall. The inability to stop Cincy's running game should be particularly concerning for Atlanta, as its beefed up defensive line looked like the feeble group from 2013.

The Falcons were very excited about beating New Orleans last week at home. The Saints are now 0-2 while Atlanta has to have concerns about its defense. The Falcons have given up 450+ yards of total offense in back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 6-7 of the 2010 season.

Chargers (1-1) 30 Seahawks (1-1)  21:

Check the calendar, the San Diego Chargers played perhaps their best game today under coach Mike McCoy, who was visibly excited following his teams nine point victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. Normally a performance the Chargers give with their season on the line in December, they were the better team for 60 minutes on Sunday—in September.

Not many offenses have been able to come up with an answer for the Seahawks tough hard hitting secondary known as the Legion of Boom but Chargers QB Philip River and Future Hall of tight end Antonio Gates sure did. The 34-year-old Gates scored TD’s on catches of eight—eight and 21 yards. Rivers, who passed for 284 yards and no INT’s, is the first QB with 3 TD passes against the Seahawks since Week 8 in 2012, when Matthew Stafford did it. Those are the only two players to throw 3 TD passes against Seattle with Richard Sherman on the field. The three touchdown receptions tied Gates' career high.

Seattle’s vaunted defense allowed 377 total yards to the Chargers but it was SD’s defense that played better on the day. They held the Russell Wilson and Seahawks to less than 300 total yards, including just 36 rushing yards to Marshawn Lynch. The six carries today tied for Lynch’s fewest since joining Seattle.

The Chargers (1-1) dominated time of possession and wore out the Seahawks' vaunted defense on a hot day in southern California. San Diego had the ball for 42:15 compared to 17:45 for Seattle, and gained 26 first downs to 14 for the Seahawks. The Seahawks loss was their first by more than 7 points since Week 9 of 2011 against the Cowboys

Texans (2-0) 30 Raiders (0-2) 14

The Texans have now starred 2-0 for five straight seasons. However, they are hoping that starting 2-0 this season yields much different results than when they did so last year. After starting unbeaten through two games in 2013, the Texans dropped 14 straight games to finish the season with the No.1 overall pick in May’s NFL Draft. Houston is the first team to start 2-0 in five straight seasons since 1994-1999 Dolphins.

J.J. Watt

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

The Texans didn't have to range too far outside to beat the Raiders Sunday… – The Texans rushed 36 times for 151 yards and a touchdown in between the tackles Sunday. Arian Foster gained 123 of his 136 yards on those rushes. – Ryan Fitzpatrick was 11-of-13 for 111 yards and a touchdown when passing between the painted field numbers. He attempted only 6 passes outside the numbers. The march up the middle allowed the Texans to cruise to a 30-14 victory. The Texans last pass attempt came at 4:02 of the third quarter, and was followed by 17 rushes…

The 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the year, JJ Watt, didn’t have his usual day on defense, registering just a lone QB hit but he added to his athletic resume regardless. On second-and-goal at the one, the Texans first scoring drive of the game, Watt lined up at tight end and was wide open in the end zone when two Oakland defenders covered RB Arian Foster. Watt caught his first pass since his days as a tight end at Central Michigan in 2007 to give the Texans a 7-0 lead.

Rookie Derek Carr continued to play like a rookie. Playing against the team that drafted his big brother David first overall in 2002, Derek Carr went 27 for 42 for 263 yards with a late TD pass to James Jones and two interceptions. The Raiders committed four turnovers, all in scoring territory.

Broncos (2-0) 24 Chiefs (0-2) 17:

The Broncos did just enough to eke out a win over division rival Kansas City on Sunday. KC outgained the high octane offense of the Broncos and if you looked at the stats alone, may have figured the Chiefs won the game. The Chiefs (0-2), without All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles for much of the game due to an ankle injury, converted 11 of 16 third-down opportunities overall. They just couldn't capitalize in the biggest moments as the Broncos mustered two goal-line stands for the second straight week.manningnew

The Broncos (2-0) didn't think it would come down to another goal-line stand. But Aqib Talib's pick-6 earlier in the drive was negated by Quanterus Smith's offside penalty. Then, Nate Irving's fumble recovery following DeMarcus Ware's sack and strip was changed to an incomplete pass after a review. The Chiefs ninth life was expunged when Terrance Knighton deflected Alex Smith's fourth-and-goal pass from the two- to Dwayne Bowe with 15 seconds left. He was engaged with center Rodney Hudson when he reached up and felt the football smack into his right arm.

Manning was 21 of 26 for 242 yards and three TDs with no interceptions, but spent most of the game on the sideline. The Broncos had the ball for less than 10 minutes in the second half. Manning was also 6-of-6 for 122 yards and a touchdown on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield. Manning has a league-high 19 touchdowns on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield since the start of last season, but passed even his own standard in Sunday's win. – Manning is the only quarterback to open 2014 with three touchdowns and no interceptions in back-to-back weeks. This is the 47th game of Manning's career with at least three touchdowns and no interceptions. All three touchdowns came against standard pressure.

Emmanuel Sanders led the Broncos with eight catches for 108 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career. Demaryius Thomas had an 80-yard TD catch negated when right tackle Chris Clark was whistled for being downfield. Denver will head to Seattle next week in a rematch of Super Bowl XLXIII. The result may not be much different, as Seattle will be looking to get back on track after losing to the AFC West Chargers today.

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

April 4, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

This week of free agency saw one major signing and a few other less important ones. The two biggest both included the wide receiver position. These two are talked about in depth below and as always the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

Philadelphia Eagles release and Washington Redskins sign WR DeSean Jackson

In the major NFL news of the week, the Eagles decided to release Jackson and he was soon snatched up by the another NFC East team, in the Redskins.

First, the release. By cutting Jackson the Eagles saved $6.5 million in cap space, but that wasn't the main reason that they parted ways with him. Yes the money saved and the fact that Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper have both been re-signed this offseason made the move seem a little more reasonable, but the main reason was due to Jackson's attitude and his reported gang connections.

DeSean Jackson

Courtesy of ICON SMI

According to an article posted on NJ.com, the 27-year old Jackson has ties with the Crips––one of the biggest and most famous gangs in the United States. This along with his reported me-first attitude where enough for the Eagles to release him despite him recording or tying career-highs in catches, yards and touchdowns last season.

Prior to releasing him the Eagles tried to execute a trade, but they found limited interest.

Once he hit the open market, there was interest from numerous teams, but the Redskins were able to secure his first visit and they didn't let him leave town.

It is a four-year deal worth $32 million––exactly $8 million per season––with $16 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $5 million. If he is on the Redskins' roster five days after the Super Bowl for the 2016 season, his contract will void making him a free agent. His cap hit this season is a reasonable $4.25 million.

Last season with the Eagles he had 82 catches, 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. With him moving to a new team in the same division, he is the first player in NFL history to do this after posting 80-plus catches and 1,200-plus yards in the previous season.

Possessing excellent speed––he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds at the NFL Combine in 2008––he is one of the best deep threats in the NFL. While he doesn't provide much else in terms of being a receiver, he does this very well and is one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL. Any given Sunday he can go out and have an outstanding performance, but follow it up with a bad one the next week. For example in week 15 last year he had 10 catches for 195 yards and one touchdown. In week 16 he had only 4 catches for 29 yards and in week 17 he had three catches for 28 yards.

He also is a dynamic punt returner. While his punt returns have declined every year since his rookie season except last year when he was coming off a one-punt return season––kind of hard to decline from that––he still has the ability to go back and return punts. Since he is making so much money and will be an integral part of the Redskins' offense, it is unlikely that he sees much time as a returner. However, he could go back and return a few in certain situations when the Redskins are looking for a spark or need a big return at the end of a game. This is how the Eagles used him over the past few years.

For the Redskins, signing a player of Jackson's caliber is a great move. Another receiver was needed in their offense and quarterback Robert Griffin III throws a great deep ball so there is no doubt that he would fit into their offense. The guaranteed money in the contract looks to be too much though. With a player who has reported character concerns, giving that much guaranteed money doesn't seem like a good idea. But then again, Redskins' owner Dan Snyder has shown over the years that he isn't afraid to dole out the big bucks in free agency.

St. Louis Rams sign WR Kenny Britt

In the other wide receiver news this week, the Rams added the 25-year old Britt on a one-year deal.

This one-year deal has a base value of $1.4 million with $500,000 million guaranteed. There is another $1.5 million available in incentives though so the maximum value of the deal is $2.9 million.

This is the typical "prove it" deal. Only one season long, there is no long-term commitment from the team and the player gets to hit free agency again next season. There is also a considerable amount of money available in incentives. These two things show that it is a "prove it" deal.

Last season with the Tennessee Titans, he caught 11 passes for 96 yards and zero touchdowns. By this, his fifth season in Tennessee, he had grown out of favor with the coaching staff. Like Jackson above, Britt is reported to have attitude problems. Combine that with knee problems and there was little playing time for him.

His best statistical season came in 2010––his second year with the Titans after they drafted him with the 30th overall pick in 2009. He caught 42 passes for 775 yards and nine touchdowns in 12 games, seven of them starts. At this point in his career, it looked like he was a rising star in the league.

However, he tore his ACL and MCL in week three of the following season and off-the-field issues caught up with him, eventually resulting in a suspension. Since that knee injury he hasn't been the same player.

Joining the Rams, he is reunited with Jeff Fisher who was the head coach of the Titans when they drafted Britt. This is yet another example of Fisher bringing former Titans to the Rams via free agency.

For the Rams this deal makes sense. There is no long-term commitment and Britt is one of the biggest boom-or-bust players in the league. This signing could end up being irrelevant or it could end up being a steal.

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals sign CB LeQuan Lewis.
The Arizona Cardinals sign CB Eddie Whitley.
The Atlanta Falcons re-sign CB Robert McClain.
The Baltimore Ravens sign sign TE Owen Daniels to a one-year deal.
The Chicago Bears re-sign OL Eben Britton.
The Cincinnati Bengals S Danieal Manning to a one-year deal.
The Denver Broncos re-sign OT Winston Justice.
The Denver Broncos sign C Will Montgomery.
The Detroit Lions sign QB Dan Orlovsky.
The Detroit Lions sign OT J.B. Shugarts.
The Green Bay Packers re-sign FB John Kuhn to a one-year deal.
The Houston Texans sign S Chris Clemons to a two-year deal.
The Houston Texans release S Danieal Manning.
The Houston Texans re-sign CB Elbert Mack.
The Miami Dolphins sign WR Kevin Cone.
The Miami Dolphins sign OT Jason Fox.
The Miami Dolphins sign WR Mike Rios.
The Miami Dolphins sign QB Jordan Rodgers.
The New England Patriots re-sign C Ryan Wendell to a two-year deal.
The New England Patriots sign S Patrick Chung.
The New Orleans re-sign OLB Parys Haralson.
The New Orleans Saints sign S Marcus Ball.
The New York Giants sign CB Zack Bowman.
The New York Giants re-sign DT Mike Patterson.
The New York Giants sign OT Charles Brown.
The New York Giants sign DE Robert Ayers to a two-year deal.
The New York Jets sign CB Jeremy Reeves.
The New York Jets re-sign LB Nick Bellore.
The New York Jets sign WR Jacoby Ford.
The New York Jets sign CB Dimitri Patterson.
The Oakland Raiders sign RB Maurice Jones-Drew to a three-year deal.
The Oakland Raiders re-sign DT Pat Sims.
The Oakland Raiders sign DE C.J. Wilson.
The Oakland Raiders sign CB Carlos Rogers to a one-year deal.
The Oakland Raiders release G Mike Brisiel.
The Philadelphia Eagles sign OL Andrew Gardner.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign LeGarrette Blount to a two-year deal.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign CB Brice McCain.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign WR Darrius Heyward-Bey to a one-year deal.
The Seattle Seahawks sign LS Jorgen Hus.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign FB Jorvorskie Lane.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign FB Josh Baker.
The Tennessee Titans re-sign OL Chris Spencer.
The Tennessee Titans sign OL Eric Olsen.
The Washington Redskins sign OL Mike McGlynn.
The Washington Redskins sign QB Colt McCoy.
The Washington Redskins sign S Ryan Clark to a one-year deal.

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

March 7, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

By Staff Writer Matt Pearce:

The last transaction tracker before the start of free agency on March 11, most teams were active this week either re-signing, cutting or using their franchise or transition tag on different players.

Franchise and Transition Tags

Jimmy Graham

Courtesy of ICON SMI

Last Monday was the deadline for teams to place the franchise or transition tag on any of their impending free agents. Usually multiple teams use their franchise tag, but it is rare to see a transition tag used. The difference between the two is that the franchise tag completely takes the player off the free agent market while the transition tag allows the player to still test the open market, but their team gets the right to match any contract offer that the player signs. Once the player signs the transition tag tender, he can't receive offers from other teams. This is what Jason Worilds of the Pittsburgh Steelers has already done. It is basically like restricted free agency without draft pick compensation if the player leaves. The only exception to this is the non-exclusive franchise tag, which is what the Saints used on Jimmy Graham. This means that the player can test the free agent market and sign with another team. Their old team can match any offer, but if they don't they will receive two-first round picks from the team that signs the player.

Since these tags have been much discussed already and because this week also saw numerous other moves, I am just going to list the tagged players and not go in depth for them.

The Carolina Panthers place their franchise tag on DE Greg Hardy. This tag is worth $13.1 million.
The Cleveland Browns place their transition tag on C Alex Mack. This tag is worth $10.04 million.
The New Orleans Saints place their franchise tag on TE Jimmy Graham. This tag is worth $7.05 million.
The New York Jets place their franchise tag on K Nick Folk. This tag is worth $3.56 million.
The Pittsburgh Steelers place their transition tag on OLB Jason Worilds. This tag is worth $9.75 million.
The Washington Redskins place their franchise tag on OLB Brian Orakpo. This tag is worth $11.5 million.

Baltimore Ravens re-sign TE Dennis Pitta

Up first this week is Pitta, the tight end for the Baltimore Ravens.

An impending free agent, he signed a five-year deal worth $32 million with $16 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $11 million. This pays him as a top-10 tight end, which he is.

Drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the 28-year old (29 at the start of the season) has quickly developed into quarterback Joe Flacco's favorite target.

Off the field, the two are best friends and on the field, this relationship carries over. Flacco's favorite receiver to look for is Pitta. This is one of the reasons why Flacco struggled this last season as Pitta missed the first 12 games with a hip injury.

Early in training camp, Pitta landed badly on his hip after making a leaping catch. In doing so, he dislocated and fractured his hip. At the time, it was thought that he would be out for the season. However, just before the season began, the Ravens placed him on injured reserve with a designation to return. This allowed to to return later in the season and he didn't have to take up a roster spot while recovering.

He finished this past season with 20 catches for 169 yards and one touchdown in just four games.

His best season came the year before when the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII. For the season, the sure-handed Pitta had 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns. In the postseason, he added another 14 catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns, including four catches for 26 yards and one touchdown in the Super Bowl.

Not run blocker by any means, he is a pure pass-catching tight end––something that has become more and more common over the recent years. He spends a lot of his time lined up in the slot a receiver to create mismatches over the middle of the field. This led to speculation that he could have been ruled a wide receiver if the Ravens placed the franchise tag on him. Thanks to this new deal though, that won't be necessary.

New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak loves to utilize tight ends and two tight end sets in his offense. While he has remade his offense to better fit the Ravens, expect Pitta to be a key component of this offense. Currently, Pitta is the only tight end under contract with the Ravens right now, so more work is needed at this position.

It may look like he is overpaid a bit, but consider two things: he is Flacco's favorite target and tight ends are becoming more important to offenses every year. Even at $6.4 million per year, Pitta is only in the top-10 for tight ends in terms of average value of the contract. He is certainly a top-10 tight end the NFL and is worth more to the Ravens than any other team.

San Diego Chargers re-sign ILB Donald Butler

Receiving the longest contract of the week is Butler who signed a deal that can go up to seven years.

However, there is a catch. After the third year of the contract, there is a team option. If that is picked up, then he stays for another four years, if not then he becomes a free agent. The first three years of the deal are worth about $20 million with $12 million guaranteed. If the team option is picked up, then another $15 million becomes guaranteed and will take the total value of the contract up to $48 million.

No doubt, this is a creative contract that provides protection to the team in case he struggles. A potential reason for this type of contract is that he has sustained numerous injuries so far in his NFL career.

After being drafted by the Chargers in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the 25-year old has started 40 games for the team. The only full season that he has played in was his second year. His rookie season, he tore his Achilles tendon before the season started. In his third season, he missed four games and he missed three games this season due to a groin injury.

In that only full season, he recorded 96 tackles, two sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles. This past season, he had 84 tackles, 0.5 sacks and one interception.

According to Pro Football Focus, his 2011 season was the best of his career. This season, he ranked as the 45th best inside linebacker (out of 55). He struggled all around, but his worst grade came in coverage.

Essentially, this is a three-year contract that averages $6.6 million per year. This is a lot of money for a player that struggled last season, but the team is obviously banking on their defensive leader improving over the coming years. However, if his play continues to be similar, San Diego overpaid.

Philadelphia Eagles re-sign WR Jeremy Maclin

After re-signing three key players last week, the Eagles continue to work by signing the 25-year old Maclin to a one-year deal.

This one-year deal is worth a maximum of $6 million and contains $3.5 million in guaranteed money.

The reason why this is a one-year deal is because Maclin missed all of last season due to a torn ACL. He––smartly––was willing to take a one-year deal to prove that he is fully recovered and allow him to cash in even better next offseason.

Drafted by the Eagles with the 19th overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Missouri, he has started 57 games for Philadelphia in four seasons of play. (He has been with the team for five years, but he saw no playing time last season due to his torn ACL.)

Statistically speaking, his best season came in 2010––his second year in the league. Catching 70 passes for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns, he set career-highs in all three of these categories. Pro Football Focus grades his best season as his rookie year.

In his last season played, he caught 69 passes for 857 yards and seven touchdowns.

It will be interesting to see how he can perform in head coach Chip Kelly's imaginative offense. Maclin has great speed and was expected to play a major role in the offense last season before his injury.

This signing gives the Eagles a potent wide receiving corps of DeSean Jackson (who may or may not be on the trade block right now), Riley Cooper and Maclin.

For the Eagles, there is no risk involved in this deal since it is just for one year. Teams can't go wrong with one-year "prove it" deals. He could blow up and have a great season or he could get injured again or he could perform badly. If he plays well, then the Eagles have a good player on a cheap deal. If he does bad or gets injured again, they have no future money committed to him.

Miami Dolphins re-sign CB Brent Grimes

Last up this week is Grimes, who signed a four-year deal after playing last season on a "prove it" deal like Maclin will do this season.

Grimes did well for himself, turning the one-year "prove it" deal worth $5.5 million––very similar to Maclin––into a four-year deal worth just over $32 million with $16.95 million guaranteed.

The reason that Grimes took a one-year deal last offseason was because he was coming off a torn Achilles tendon. He was playing that season––2012––under the franchise tag after failing to reach a long-term agreement with the Atlanta Falcons.

Prior to signing with the Dolphins last season, he had only played for the Falcons. After the 2006 NFL Draft, they signed him as an undrafted free agent. After spending time with the Hamburg Sea Devils in NFL Europe, he made the Falcons roster in the 2007.

He then became a part-time starter in 2008 and 2009. After intercepting six passes in 2009 (a career-high), he became a full-time starter in 2010.

According to Pro Football Focus, his best season came in 2011––which led to him being franchise tagged––but last season came a very close second. This year saw him grade as the second best cornerback in the league behind only Darrelle Revis. (In 2011 Grimes was the third best.)

Averaging $8 million per year, this deal is fair for both sides. Without him the Dolphins severely lacked cornerback depth. Now he finally gets that long-term contract that he was looking for back in 2012.

Other Moves:

I've highlighted some transactions below in red to point them out as they were also significant. There were so many moves this week that not all could be discussed in depth.

The Arizona Cardinals release LB Jasper Brinkley.
The Arizona Cardinals sign C John Estes.
The Arizona Cardinals re-sign DT Alameda Ta'amu.
The Atlanta Falcons re-sign DT Corey Peters.
Atlanta Falcons RB Jason Snelling has announced his retirement.
The Buffalo Bills cut LB Willie Jefferson.
The Buffalo Bills re-sign CB Brandon Smith to a two-year deal.
The Buffalo Bills re-sign S Aaron Williams to a four-year deal.
The Carolina Panthers re-sign K Graham Gano to a four-year deal.
The Chicago Bears re-sign CB Kelvin Hayden.
The Chicago Bears cut P Adam Podlesh.
The Chicago Bears re-sign DT Jeremiah Ratliff to a two-year deal.
The Chicago Bears sign DE Trevor Scott.
The Cincinnati Bengals re-sign G Mike Pollak to a three-year deal.
The Cleveland Browns release WR Davone Bess.
The Cleveland Browns cut WR Bryan Tyms.
The Cleveland Browns cut LB Paul Hazel.
The Cleveland Browns re-sign K Billy Cundiff.
The Dallas Cowboys release DE Everette Brown.
The Dallas Cowboys cut OT Jeff Olson.
The Dallas Cowboys cut OL Ray Dominguez.
The Dallas Cowboys cut DL Corvey Irvin.
The Dallas Cowboys cut C Phil Costa.
The Denver Broncos release CB Champ Bailey.
The Detroit Lions cut OL Leroy Harris.
The Detroit Lions sign DT Corvey Irvin.
The Houston Texans re-sign OLB Ricky Sapp.
The Houston Texans cut LB Evan Frierson.
The Indianapolis Colts sign LB D’Qwell Jackson to a four-year deal.
The Indianapolis Colts cut C Samson Satele.
The Jacksonville Jaguars release G Uche Nwaneri.
The Jacksonville Jaguars re-sign OT Cameron Bradfield to a two-year deal.
The Jacksonville Jaguars re-sign TE Clay Harbor to a two-year deal.
The Jacksonville Jaguars re-sign OT Sam Young.
The Kansas City Chiefs release LB Robert James.
The Kansas City Chiefs release TE Dominique Jones.
The Miami Dolphins re-sign QB Pat Devlin.
The Minnesota Vikings release TE John Carlson.
The Minnesota Vikings release DT Letroy Guion.
The Minnesota Vikings release WR Greg Childs.
The New England Patriots release S Steve Gregory.
The New York Jets claim CB Johnny Patrick off waivers.
The Oakland Raiders re-sign OL Khalif Barnes.
The Philadelphia Eagles re-sign DE Cedric Thornton.
The Philadelphia Eagles release WR Jason Avant.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign TE Heath Miller to a two-year contract extension.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign S Troy Polamalu to a two-year contract extension.
The Pittsburgh Steelers cut LB Larry Foote.
The Pittsburgh Steelers cut OT Levi Brown.
The Pittsburgh Steelers cut CB Curtis Brown.
The Pittsburgh Steelers re-sign S Will Allen.
The San Diego Chargers release FB Le'Ron McClain.
The San Diego Chargers cut CB Derek Cox.
The San Diego Chargers release CB Johnny Patrick.
The San Francisco 49ers re-sign WR Anquan Boldin to a two-year deal.
The Seattle Seahawks release WR Sidney Rice.
The Seattle Seahawks release DE Red Bryant.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-sign RB Bobby Rainey.
The Tennessee Titans re-sign S Bernard Pollard to a two-year deal.
The Tennessee Titans re-sign DE Ropati Pitoitua to a three-year deal.
The Washington Redskins re-sign S Jose Gumbs.
The Washington Redskins release DE Adam Carriker.
The Washington Redskins release P Sav Rocca.
The Washington Redskins cut TE Richard Quinn.
The Washington Redskins cut RB Davin Meggett.
The Washington Redskins cut RB Jawan Jamison.

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

February 21, 2014 in NFL Personnel

By Staff Writer Matt Pearce:

With less than one month to go until free agency starts, things are starting to heat up in the NFL and it shows as this week there were two key re-signings.

Baltimore Ravens re-sign OLB Terrell Suggs

The first––and most important––move this week comes from Baltimore, where the Ravens signed the 31-year old Suggs to a contract extension.

A four-year extension on top of this season (so really a five-year deal), the total value of the contract is around $30 million. There is $16 million in guaranteed money and an $11 million signing bonus. The other $5 million in guaranteed money comes from the base salaries for this season ($1 million) and next season ($4 million). For this season, his cap hit is reduced from $12.4 million to $7.8 million which creates $4.6 million in cap space for the Ravens. In terms of actual money that he makes this season, he receives an increase as he will earn $12.4 million.

Entering the final year of his six-year $62.5 million deal, he was set to count as $12.4 million against the salary cap. This was the third-highest cap number on the team behind defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and quarterback Joe Flacco. Cutting or trading Suggs would have saved the Ravens $7.8 million in much needed cap space. Due to this high savings number––the largest on the team––it was widely reported that the Ravens would either cut him or renegotiate his contract to create a lower cap hit.

Terrell Suggs

Courtesy of ICON SMI

Drafted by the Ravens with the 10th pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, he has been with the Ravens his entire career and now seems set to finish his career in Baltimore.

Despite starting only one game as a rookie, he recorded 12 sacks (a Ravens' rookie record) and earned the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.

In the 2011 season, he performed at his best setting career-highs in sacks (14.0) and forced fumbles (7). He all tied a career-high with two interceptions. With this dominant performance, he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, making him the third Ravens' defender to earn with award along with linebacker Ray Lewis (2000 and 2003) and safety Ed Reed (2004).

The following season––2012––wasn't so kind to Suggs as he tore his Achilles' tendon during the offseason. A significant injury that causes many players to miss entire seasons, Suggs returned in late October about five and a half months after surgery. In his first game back, he recorded four tackles and one sack against the Houston Texans.

Late in the season though, he tore his biceps muscle against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Missing only one game, he came back and played in the final two regular season games.

As the Ravens started their postseason run to Super Bowl XLVII, he was clearly at less than 100 percent, but that didn't stop him from recording 10 tackles and two sacks against the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. This two-sack performance helped the Ravens' upset the heavily favored Broncos.

In Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers, he had two tackles in the Ravens 34-31 victory.

This season, he entered the season in the best shape of his life and it showed early in the season. Through the first eight games of the season, he had nine sacks and seemed on pace to be named defensive player of the year again. However, over the second half of the season, his performance faded as he had only one sack over the last eight games of the season. He also had only 20 of his 80 tackles during the final eight games.

Not only is he a good pass rusher, he is also stout against the run. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the best run defending 3-4 outside linebacker this season. The worst he has finished as a run defender since they started grading in 2008 was 13th during his injury riddled 2012 season. Take that season away, and the worst he has finished is third.

Overall, this deal is a win-win. Both sides get what they wanted as the Ravens receive cap room this season and lock up one of their veteran leaders for a few more years. Suggs gets the security of a new contract, earns more money this season and gives him the opportunity to do something he saw Lewis do just one season ago––retire as a Baltimore Raven.

Washington Redskins re-sign CB DeAngelo Hall

Just south of Baltimore is Washington D.C. where the Redskins re-signed Hall who was set to become a free agent.

Worth $17 million, it is a four-year deal with $5.25 million in guaranteed money. There is a signing bonus of $3.25 million. This means that there is another $2 million guaranteed in the contract. It is likely that this will be the salary in the first year and maybe part of the second (depending on how much his first year base salary is).

Playing for three different teams in his career, he started out with the Atlanta Falcons after they drafted him with the eighth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection with Atlanta (2005 and 2006), his best statistical season with them came in 2005 when he had 65 tackles, two forced fumbles and six interceptions.

In the offseason before the 2008 season, the Falcons traded him to the Oakland Raiders for second and fifth-round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. With the trade, he agreed to a seven-year contract worth $70 million. However, after playing just eight games with Oakland, he was released due to poor performance and clashing with the Raiders' defensive style.

Quickly after this, the Redskins snatched him off the open market on a deal to finish out the season. The ensuing offseason, the Redskins signed him to a six-year deal worth $55 million.

During the 2010 season, he tied an NFL record for most interceptions in a single game with four. He was named to his third Pro Bowl at the end of the season and was MVP of this Pro Bowl game.

This past offseason, he was released by the Redskins due to having a high salary cap number, but he signed a cheaper one-year deal soon after.

Now he is staying with the Redskins for another four years with this contract. By signing him, the Redskins can now move to their most important free agent, outside linebacker Brian Orakpo who is likely going to demand a major contract.

Hall is a decent cornerback, but he is nothing special anymore. With the Redskins' secondary needing work though, he is a good player to keep around.

Other Moves:

The Atlanta Falcons sign OL Gabe Carimi.
The Atlanta Falcons release G Garrett Reynolds.
The Chicago Bears sign DE Austen Lane.
The Chicago Bears sign CB Derricus Purdy.
The Indianapolis Colts cut RB Tashard Choice.
The Indianapolis Colts cut DE Jake McDonough.
The Kansas City Chiefs re-sign TE Richard Gordon.
The New Orleans Saints re-sign K Shayne Graham.
The New Orleans Saints re-sign OT Bryce Harris.
The New Orleans Saints re-sign CB Trevin Wade.
The San Diego Chargers sign DE Cordarro Law.
The Seattle Seahawks sign OL Greg Van Roten.
The Seattle Seahawks sign WR Chris Matthews.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign CB D.J. Moore.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign TE Steve Maneri.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign LB Damaso Munoz.

NFL Tidbits For Week 6

October 12, 2013 in NFL, NFL Observations, NFL Preview

Through the first five weeks, three teams (Denver, KC & Saints) remain unbeaten this season. Four teams (Steelers, Giants, Jaguars & Buccaneers) also remain winless. Those teams have won five of the last 11 Super Bowls.

The real story of the 2013 season are slow starts and inconsistent play. As you may– or may not already be aware, since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. Last season, the Colts, Vikings, Seahawks and Redskins all helped keep the dozen-year streak alive. So far this season, seven of last year’s playoff entrants have a combined record of 13-19. Three (Redskins, Falcons & Vikings) of those seven teams have three wins between them.

The Falcons suffered a devastating home loss to the Jets on Monday night and could only sit back and watch, as their top receiver, Julio Jones, injured his foot and was lost for the season the team announced on Wednesday. However, There is always hope in the NFL.  Teams off to a slow start are justified in believing that they can turn it around. Since the current playoff format (12 teams) was instituted in 1990, 14 teams have rebounded from being at least three games under .500 after the season’s first five weeks or later to qualify for the postseason. At least one team has done so in each of the past three seasons, including the Redskins in 2012, who rebounded from a 3-6 start to win their final seven games en route to an NFC East title.

The slow starts do not mean that teams are scoring less. In fact, NFL teams have combined for 3,566 points in 2013, tied for the most points through five weeks in NFL history (2011). That total equates to 46.31 points per game. If the current average stays at this pace, it would rank as the second-highest of any season in history (1948, 46.48 points per game).

ADRIAN PETERSON SAYS HE’S GOING TO PLAY:

NFL: OCT 09 Cardinals at VikingsOne of Adrian Peterson’s sons passed away Friday. The 2-year-old died of injuries from an aggravated assault on Wednesday, Sioux Falls police confirmed to NFL Media.

The accused attacker, Joseph Robert Patterson, 27, was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery of an infant in Sioux Falls, S.D., police spokesman Sam Clemens said. Patterson was in a relationship with the child's mother at the time, Clemens said. In light of the boy's death, the charges against Patterson will be reviewed and additional changes might be added. Patterson is being held in the Minnehaha County Jail on $750,000 cash bond.

All of us at Fanspeak would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the Peterson family during their time of sorrow and grief. Like many great players before him, Peterson will play on this Sunday despite the tragedy—And to judge him for doing so would simply be wrong. Many people deal with tragedy in different ways and there is no guide in life on how to grieve following the loss of a child.

Peterson will look to continue a record setting pace at home on Sunday vs. a tough Panthers front seven Through four games, Peterson has 13 more rush attempts and 89 more yards than he did in 2012, when he finished the season with 2,097 rushing yards (2nd most all-time). With five rush TDs, Peterson has three more than he did at the same time last season.

RECENT SUPER BOWL TEAMS HIGHLIGHT WEEK 6:

Week 6 in the NFL highlights a few recent Super Bowl participants squaring off. The Packers travel to play the Ravens in Baltimore, where HC John Harbaugh and QB Joe Flacco have compiled a 35-7 regular season record since arriving in 2008. Aaron Rodgers is an even 11-11 vs. the AFC in his career but is just 2-4 versus the AFC North. He is 1-0 all-time vs. Baltimore.

Contrary to many reports, Aaron Rodgers has played at M&T Bank Stadium. In relief of Brett Favre, Rodgers played in the fourth quarter of the Ravens 48-3 win vs. the Pack on MNF back in 2005–his rookie season. The Ravens were not kind to him or the Packers on the night. Rodgers was just 8-15 with one interception but fumbled twice. Brett Favre passed for just 144-yards and no touchdowns and threw two interceptions in the game, as Green Bay committed five turnovers.10_FlaccoRodgers_news

The Packers never trailed in the Monday Night Football rematch at Lambeau Field in 2009. They jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead behind TD passes from Rodgers to TE Jermichael Finley and WR Donald Driver. After Baltimore cut Green Bay’s lead to 17-14, Rodgers found Finley (7 catches, 79 yards) again for a score, this time on a 19-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter. Rodgers connected on 26 of 40 passes for 263 yards and three TDs with two INTs. Green Bay’s defense intercepted QB Joe Flacco three times on the evening, with S Nick Collins, LB A.J. Hawk and CB Tramon Williams all registering picks. LB Clay Matthews, who will miss Sunday’s contest, posted a team-high two sacks.

The 5-0 Saints and the New England Patriots, who suffered their first loss last Sunday to Cincinnatti, will also hook up on Sunday. Saints QB Drew Brees owns Bill Belichick and the Pats during his career. Brees is 3-0 vs. the Patriots in his career, with eight TDs, no INTs and a 148.3 passer rating. In two games with San Diego and one with New Orleans, Brees’ teams have outscored NE 100-48.

Not many would have guessed that the game between teams led by Tom Brady and Drew Brees would feature two of the top four scoring defenses in the NFL. The Patriots are allowing 14.0 PPG this season (2nd in NFL), while the Saints are allowing 14.6 PPG this season (4th in NFL). Patriots QB Tom Brady has his team atop the AFC East but he has had his struggles this season. Brady is averaging 6.18 yards per pass attempt this season, down from 7.52 for his career prior to 2013. Only three QBs have lower yards per attempt this season: Blaine Gabbert, Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford.

While it is not being met with the fanfare of the above games, the 49ers and Cardinals are also two recent Super Bowl teams that will meet this Sunday. San Fran lost to the Ravens last year in New Orleans and the Cards, with Kurt Warner at QB, dropped a heartbreaker in Tampa Bay back in 2009. Despite handling the Texans and Rams with relative ease, I am not convinced Niners sophomore QB Colin Kaepernick is totally back on track. In Sunday’s night’s victory vs. Houston, Kaepernick went 6-for-15 passing with 113 yards and one TD. It was his fewest completions, attempts and yards as a starter. The last QB to win a game with six or fewer completions was Tim Tebow, who went 2-for-8 passing in a 17-10 win over the Chiefs in 2011.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL:

3 More Picks equal 0-6 for Eli & Company

The winless NY Giants and the Chicago Bears played in the NFL’s latest installment of Thursday Night Hypocrisy Football. Amazing, that with all of the issues surrounding player safety, the league still makes two teams play a game less than 100 hours after playing their last one. The Giants entered the contest having won four consecutive road games against the Bears, dating back to 1992. Before losing last night, the Giants' last loss in Chicago came in 1991, when Jim Harbaugh led the Bears to a 20-17 victory over Jeff Hostetler’s team. NY fell to 0-6 following the 27-21 loss to Da Bears in Chicago.  Eli Manning struggles continued as he threw his 13th, 14th and 15th interceptions of the season. Only one other quarterback in NFL history has started and lost each of his team's first six games of a season while throwing at least 15 interceptions. That was Eddie LeBaron, who started and lost each of the first six games in Cowboys' team history, in 1960; he threw 17 picks in those six games.

Manning (0-6) and Ben Roethlisberger (0-4) are the only quarterbacks ever to start a season 0-3 or worse after winning multiple Super Bowls. Only two quarterbacks who started and won a Super Bowl more than once lost their first two starts in a season: Terry Bradshaw (1981) and Troy Aikman (Games 1 and 4 in 2000).

The Bears defense continues to defy experts and father time in some cases. Last night’s hero was Tim Jennings, who intercepted Eli Manning twice. Jennings ran one back for the first score of the game and ended a potential go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. Jennings has 12 interceptions in 20 games over the last two seasons, the highest total by a Bears player over 20 games since Charlie Ford had 12 picks in 20 games from 1971 to 1973.

THE DENVER MANNINGS

What could possibly be said about Peyton Manning that hasn’t already been said. In an epic battle with Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, Manning threw for 414 yards, giving him 10 career games with at least 400 passing yards and tied Drew Brees for second most, trailing only Dan Marino's 13. Manning’s 1,884 yards for the season are second-most in NFL history by a quarterback through five games, the most since Kurt Warner threw for 1,947 for the 2000 Rams. No.18 also tossed four more TD’s during the contest. His 20 touchdown passes through five games is the most through five games in NFL history and also the record for the most touchdown passes before his an interception.

Tony Romo was not too bad either. The Dallas gunslinger threw for a Cowboys single-game record 506 yards and had five touchdown passes threw for 506 passing yards, the 12th-most in a game in NFL history. He is the fifth quarterback to throw for at least 500 yards and five touchdowns in an NFL game.

Here are the top stats from the Elias Sports Bureau from the Broncos 51-48 win in Dallas.

The Broncos, who defeated the Eagles, 52-20, last week, became the first NFL team to score more than 50 points in consecutive games of the same season since the L.A. Rams (October 1950) and the Giants (November 1950) both did it 63 years ago.

This was the fourth-highest scoring non-overtime game in NFL history with the teams combining for 99 points. That is 14 shy of the NFL record set in 1966 by the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.

The two teams combined for 884 passing yards, tied for the third most in an NFL game.

The Broncos have now won 16 straight regular-season games. That’s tied for the fifth-longest streak in NFL history, seven games shy of the record of 23 games by the Indianapolis Colts from 2008 to 2009.

The Cowboys' 48 points in a loss is one shy of the NFL record, set when the 1963 Houston Oilers scored 49 points in a loss to the Raiders.

The Cowboys also became the second team in AFL/NFL history to have three players with at least 120 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in the same game. The only other team to do it was the AFL’s Houston Oilers in 1961 against the New York Titans (now known as the Jets). Dez Bryant was one of those three, as he finished with six catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Yet the Cowboys are now 1-7 in Bryant’s career when he catches multiple touchdown passes.

RIVALRY RENEWED:

RG3 & Romo after Thanksgiving day battle LY

While this was all amazing to watch, all anyone wants to talk about is the late interception Tony Romo threw. The fact that fans are beating him up this week may have something to do with the fact that the Cowboys have now lost the last eight games in which Romo has thrown a fourth-quarter interception, with six of the eight losses being by seven points or less.

Romo has his troubles in clutch situations (just ask Washington) but last week’s loss to the Broncos was the fifth time that Romo reached the 400-yard mark, and Dallas lost each of those games. In fact, Romo has lost the games in which he recorded each of the seven highest yardage totals of his career.

The only other NFL quarterbacks to lose five games in which they passed for at least 400 yards are Carson Palmer (5 of 5), Drew Brees (5 of 10), and Dan Marino (5 of 13).

This week, the Cowboys will host their division rivals, the Washington Redskins. A win in Dallas would have the Redskins right back in the thick of the NFC East race. Washington entered their bye with momentum after winning 24-14 at Oakland on Sept. 29. RG3 threw for 227 yards and a score and did not turn the football for the first time this year. More importantly, the Skins seemed to get back to an element of success for them last season, the play action pass. RG III was 10-of-13 (76.9%) using play action in Week 4, a week in which the Redskins ran on 48% of their plays. In the first three weeks of the season, the Redskins ran on 24% of their plays, with Griffin going 19-of-33 (57.6%) on play action.

The Cowboys lead the overall regular season series according to Pro Football Reference, 62-40-2 but are 0-2 to Washington in the playoffs. The Redskins swept the Cowboys last season for the first time since the 2005 season and are looking for their first three game winning streak vs. Dallas since the Redskins won four in a row, spanning three seasons from Nov. of 1986 through Oct of 1988.

NFL TIDBITS, THE BEST OF THE REST:

The Matt Schaub story is getting a little stranger each day. There were reports this week that a fan was in his driveway taking pictures of is house and screaming obscenities. The Houston Police Dept. denied any such incident occurred but fans are not happy with the Texans signal caller. Schaub became the first player in NFL history to have an interception returned for a touchdown in four consecutive games. Ironically, Schaub did not throw a pick-six in either 2011 or 2012. The only other NFL player to throw at least 700 passes without a pick-six over those two seasons was Aaron Rodgers. Houston will host the Rams this week; I’ll bet Schaub wishes that game were in St. Louis

Tramaine Brock intercepted Schaub's first pass of the game and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown. That set the tone in the 49ers' 34-3 victory over the Texans. Brock's score, at 1:30 of the first quarter, was the earliest ever produced on an interception return by a Niners player. The previous team record was an INT-TD at 1:42 by Stan Hindman against Earl Morrall and the Baltimore Colts in 1968.

The Seahawks are glad to be home after two tough games on the road in Houston and Indianapolis where they won beat the Texans but lost a tough one to Andrew Luck and the Colts. They will host the Tennessee Titans and the numbers say with Russell Wilson playing QB, this is a guaranteed win.  Since 1950, Wilson is the only QB to start his career 10-0 at home and post a passer rating of 119.0 or better. Kurt Warner started his home career 10-0 with a 116.2 passer rating, while Roger Staubach started 10-0 with a 108.3 passer rating. Wilson’s home passer rating is 119.9.

A LITTLE LUCK IS ALL YOU NEED:

Speaking of Andrew Luck, all he seems to do win as well. Last week’s come from behind win vs. Seattle was his ninth game winning drive in the fourth qtr. or overtime. That is the most through a player’s first 21 games by any quarterback that began his career since the 1970 merger. Luck is currently tied with Jake Plummer for the most game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in the first two seasons of a career since 1970.

He has beat the Seahawks and 49ers this season and with wins over other QB’s like Aaron Rodgers in his brief career, is off to quite a start. In fact, last week’s game vs. Seattle and Wilson was historic in this way; never before had a pair of second-year quarterbacks, each with at least 10 previous victories, started head-to-head. In this case, both QBs have far exceeded that total. Following Sunday's game, both Luck and Wilson have a 15-6 record as starting QBs. Sunday's game was also the first matchup of second-year quarterbacks who both started a playoff game in the previous season.

Luck, who has led Indianapolis to a 4-1 record atop the AFC South this season reached 15 wins faster than any quarterback drafted No. 1 overall since the 1970 merger (21 starts). With an 11 win season, Luck can challenge Ben Roethlisberger’s (22) record for the most wins among quarterbacks in their first two seasons of a career since 1970

PRYOR TO HIS ARRIVAL:

Prior to Terrelle Pryor taking over the starting job in Oakland , beating out Matt Flynn, who was cut once again this past week, the Oakland Raiders were a sure bet to be drafting in the top 5 of next year's NFL Draft. However, performances like the one he turned in late last Sunday night have fans and the so called experts from around the league taking notice. Pryor hit Rod Streater on a 44-yard scoring pass on the Raiders' first play from scrimmage against the Chargers. It marked the first time that Oakland had scored on its first play from scrimmage since the 2010 season, when wide receiver Jacoby Ford ran 71 yards for a touchdown to spark a victory over the Broncos. Streater scored on the Raiders' first offensive play just a smidge over 24 hours after Yoenis Cespedes scored on the Athletics' last offensive play in the same stadium (Cespedes scored the game's only run on the walk off RBI single by Stephen Vogt in Game Two of the Division Series against the Tigers). The Raiders would go onto win the game 27-17.

After upsetting the Chargers last week, the Raiders will travel to KC to try to hand the Chiefs their first loss of the season. This may not be as hard as you might think. Since 2008, the Oakland Raiders have the best road record against AFC West teams of any team in that division. At 11-5, the Raiders are one win better than the Broncos (10-5) and the Chargers (10-6). Would you believe that AFC West teams are a combined 36-26 on the road against their divisional foes in that span? It may be a little difficult to hear in KC on Sun afternoon, Chiefs fans will look to break a noise record set by the Seahawks fans last season.

Staying with the Chiefs theme for a moment, at 5-0, they are tied atop the AFC West the Denver Broncos, as both are two of three remaining undefeated teams in 2013. If both win this Sunday, it would mark the second time since the divisional structure was implemented in 1933 that two teams in the same division started 6-0.

The Broncos should easily get to 6-0, as should KC for that matter. The Broncos opened the week as a four-touchdown favorite against the winless Jaguars. After all, Manning & Co. scored more points last Sunday (51) than the Jaguars have all season. This all sounds eerily familiar to another recent high powered offensive undefeated team: The Tom Brady led 2007 Patriots. New England began that season 9-1 against the spread. Therefore, oddsmakers in Las Vegas upped the ante so to speak. In Week 11, the Pats were 25-point favorites against the Eagles—the NFL’s biggest spread since 1976, and the second largest of all-time. In case you are wondering, the Pats failed to cover in the contest and nearly lost. Philadelphia led 28-24 in the fourth Qtr. before a Laurence Maroney 4-yard TD run put the Pats up 31-28, which is how the game  ended.

AND FINALLY:

From NFL.com—-In the midst of the Pittsburgh Steelers' worst start since 1968, coach Mike Tomlin has banned all games — including billiards, Ping-Pong and shuffleboard (– from the locker room, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The games were added as a reward for Super Bowl appearances in 2008 and 2010. The ban was originally instituted a few weeks ago by the team's 10 remaining Super Bowl veterans, prohibiting players with less than four years of experience from joining in on the fun because they had not earned that right.

"From his point, it was dividing the team in a way," defensive leader Ryan Clark explained Thursday. "One sect of people couldn't do a certain thing and he just wanted everybody to be together — because we're all in the losses together. We're all in the business of fixing this problem together. He didn't want anything to divide us."Tomlin doesn't plan on removing his players from "timeout" until the season is "back on track," per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Steelers play the Jets this week—stay tuned.

Stats courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau, ESPN Stats and Information & NFL Communications:

The NFL Friday Frenzy on T.F.S.R.N

September 14, 2013 in NFL, NFL Game Preview, NFL Observations, NFL Personnel, NFL Power Rankings, NFL Preview

T.G.I.F—Thank God, It’s Frenzy Time on the Fanspeak Radio Network…

Join Alan Zlotorzynski & Stephen starting at 9:00 p.m. every Friday evening for the NFL Friday Frenzy, sponsored by Fanspeak.com. The most in depth NFL show on Blog Talk Radio will recap, break down, analyze and preview the players, teams and games each week, as no other football show can.

Alan and Steve start each show with a recap of the previous week, as they discuss the turning points of the big games. The guys will nominate a player and play of the week before playing the best audio from the post-game press conferences & Monday Pressers. The guys will also deliver the top interviews from across the world of sports talk radio.helmet

They will then recap Thursday’s NFL action, as well as all of the news from around the world of the NFL. The guys will get you up to speed on all of the last minute injury updates from Friday practices, as well as tell you about any roster changes along the way.

The dynamic duo will then preview, breakdown and offer up their prediction for each upcoming NFL game. The guys combined to pick nearly 85 percent of the winners straight up last season and after an offseason of extensive preparation, will look to be better in 2013.

Each Friday, Alan & Steve will end the show with the Fanspeak.com NFL Power Poll, as they deliver the top 10 teams in the league as well as the bottom three. You don’t want to miss three solid hours of solid in depth NFL coverage from August Until February.

You can participate in the show by following  the guys on Twitter @zlotsports &@steveospeak.

 

Peyton's Place and Week 1 NFL Tidbits

September 6, 2013 in NFL, NFL Observations, NFL Personnel

What a way to kickoff the NFL regular season—eventually. Following a weather delay that lasted nearly 42 minutes (longer than the blackout in the Super Bowl), the Denver Broncos destroyed the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens 49-27.

The amazing part of this night wasn't watching the new look Ravens defense allow the most points in team history during the loss. The amazing part was watching a 37 year old Peyton Manning use the Ravens defense like it was a 7-on-7 drill during practice. Having seemingly delivered career day after career day while playing quarterback for the Colts and Broncos, No.18 saved his finest performance for last night.

Manning threw seven touchdowns to four different receivers in a contest that resembled a Big XII showdown more than it did an NFL game. Manning joins Y.A. Tittle as the only quarterbacks to throw for seven scores without throwing an interception. He tied the NFL records both for number of games with four touchdown passes (23, shared with Brett Favre) and at least five touchdown passes (seven, tied with Drew Brees). He also has the most games with six touchdown passes in NFL history with three. Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos

Manning is the sixth player with seven touchdown passes in a game, the first since Joe Kapp in 1969. He is the only Broncos player to throw for that many scores in a game and that’s important to mention not because Frank Tripuka played there.

Manning also joined Brees as the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to throw six touchdown passes in a season opener and became the second-oldest quarterback with at least six touchdown passes, Brett Favre was a year older. He is also the only quarterback to throw as many as six touchdown passes in a game against the Ravens. Manning has a pair of games with at least six touchdowns and no interceptions. Only four other quarterbacks have at least one such game in the Super Bowl era. Tom Brady also has two.

The hits just keep on coming as Manning had four touchdown throws that went at least 15 yards downfield. Only two other quarterbacks have had a game with that many such throws within the past six seasons — Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Manning is now 10-3 against the Ravens, combining regular season and postseason, which is the most wins for any quarterback against them.

Oh by the way, Manning’s 462 passing yards were the second-most he had in any game in his career. He had 472 against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2004. Wheeew let us take moment to thank the Elias Sports Bureau, Inc., as well as ESPN Stats and Information. I surely did not compile those stats because, as a Ravens fan, I could not pick my head up from my lap.

Each week during the NFL season, I will give 10 important tidbits about that weekends games, and with 15 games yet to be played this weekend, here are your 10 week 1 tidbits, courtesy of NFL Communications.

Is This Atlanta’s Year:

This offseason, the Atlanta Falcons signed free agent running back Steven Jackson, who has totaled 10,138 career-rushing yards. With Jackson and tight end Tony Gonzalez (14,268 receiving yards) on the same team, it will mark only the second time in NFL history a team will start the season with a 14,000-yard receiver and a 10,000-yard rusher.

Skins & Pats Sure Things:

The Redskins & Patriots look good for Week 1. Washington’s Mike Shanahan is 15-4 (.789) on Kickoff Weekend and his 15 wins are the most among active head coaches. Shanahan and New England’s BILL BELICHICK (12-6; .667) are the only active coaches that have won at least 10 Kickoff Weekend games and own an opening weekend winning percentage above .600

What’s on Tap for the MVP?

Last year, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, the second-most in a season in NFL history, and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year by The Associated Press. Entering his seventh season, Peterson has totaled 8,849 rushing yards.

With 151 rushing yards on Sunday, Peterson can join Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (9,915) and Jim Brown (9,322) as the only players to have at least 9,000 rushing yards through 90 career games in NFL history.

America’s Sport:

For more than four decades, according to The Harris Poll, the NFL has been the most popular sport in America. In its most recent survey, released January 17, 2013, Harris – the pioneer in market research – reveals that pro football is the favorite sport of more than one-third of people (34 percent). That is more than double the next favorite sport, with 16 percent of people claiming baseball as their favorite sport. In addition, professional football has gained in popularity more than any other sport since 1985 with a 10 percent increase (from 24 to 34 percent). The third favorite sport in the survey is college football at 11 percent, meaning that football is the favorite sport of nearly half of America’s sports fans (45 percent).

Interestingly, Auto Racing (8) beat basketball (7) by one percent.

America’s Team:

The DALLAS COWBOYS, who start the season on Sunday Night Football at home against the New York Giants, have posted a 35-17-1 (.673) record on Kickoff Weekend, the top mark in the NFL, including wins in a record 17 consecutive openers from 1965-81. When the Cowboys play at Kansas City in Week 2, they can improve their league-best .623 winning percentage (33-20) in road openers.

The First to 50:

The NEW YORK GIANTS begin the year at Dallas on Sunday Night Football with the second-highest winning percentage (.590, 49-34-5) and the second-most wins (49) in road openers. With a victory, the Giants will be one of only two teams to win 50 or more road openers (Green Bay, 53). If the Giants defeat Denver in Week 2 at MetLife Stadium, they will reach 50 wins in home openers. With a 2-0 start, the Giants will reach 50 wins in both home openers and road openers, a feat that has not yet been accomplished (see Green Bay Packers).

The First to 50 Part II:

The NFC North champion GREEN BAY PACKERS, who open the season in San Francisco, have 52 wins on Kickoff Weekend, the second-most in league history. The Packers are 53-37-2 (.596) in road openers, the most wins and third-best winning percentage in the NFL, after winning six of the past seven such contests. When Green Bay hosts Washington in Week 2, the Packers (49) can become one of three NFL teams with 50 or more wins in home openers and will reach 50 wins in both home openers and road openers, a feat that has not yet been accomplished (see New York Giants).

Tommy Terrific:

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a 136-39 (.777) career regular-season record as a starter, the best winning percentage of any NFL quarterback in the Super Bowl era with at least 100 starts. Brady’s success could be attributed to a fast start. Brady has a 10-1 (.909) career record in season-openers, the best among quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era (minimum 10 starts).

And They Say Defense Wins Championships

In 2012, a record 11,651 points were scored, with games averaging 45.5 points, the highest average in 47 seasons (46.1 in 1965). An NFL-record 139 return TDs were scored and nine teams scored 400+ points, tying the mark set in 2008. The league-wide passer rating (85.6) and TD-INT ratio (1.62:1) were both all-time bests, as games averaged an NFL record 694.4 total net yards per contest. There were 126 individual 300-yard passing games, the most ever— and 20 of 32 NFL teams (62.5 percent) started the same QB in every game, the most in a season since at least 1970. Twelve QBs had 25-plus pass TDs and six QBs passed for 4,500+ yards, both records.

How About Some Defense:

Pittsburgh has won six Lombardi trophies with some of the greatest defenses the league has ever seen. With the ageless Dick LeBeau as the Steelers defensive coordinator, Pittsburgh can become the third team to lead the league in fewest net yards allowed for three consecutive seasons. Boston/Washington (1935-37) and Chicago (1984-86) are the only teams to accomplish the feat. The Steelers have led the league in fewest net yards allowed in 10 different seasons, the most of any team in NFL history. And for good measure, the Steelers need one victory to become the first AFC team in history with 600 total victories. Pittsburgh’s all-time record is 599-546-2.

LeBeau actually played for the Boston/Washington team—–I’m kidding!

“The Juice, The Dutchman and Dallas Clarke—sorry, it’s a Clarke in Dallas”

The Dutchman

Here are the best Week 1 performances in league history. The top rushing performance belongs to O.J Simpson. The Juice rushed for 250-yards on 29 carries and scored two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder. The Bills defeated the Patriots 31-13, as Simpson would go on to become the league’s first ever 2000-yard rusher, finishing with 2,003. The Bills will play the Patriots on Sunday and need more than the Juice in his heyday to have a shot in this one.

The L.A. Rams Norm Van Brocklin completed 27 passes for 554-yrads on Sept 28, 1951, as the Rams hammered the New York Yanks 54-14. WR’s, Crazy Legs Elroy Hirsch caught nine passes for 173-yards and caught four of The Dutchman’s five touchdowns on the day. Tom Fears would add 162-receiving yards and Vitamin Smith became the third century mark receiver for the Rams on the day with 103-yards and one touchdown. Van Brocklin, Hirsch and Fears would all go on to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Dutchman led the Rams to the 1951 NFL Title with a 24-17 win over the Browns in the championship game.

Frank Clarke

Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Frank Clarke caught 10 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns as the Cowboys defeated the Washington Redskins on Sept 16, 1962. Don Meredith and Eddie LeBaron combined to pass for 351-yards against the Skins—but it was not enough to get the win—or a loss—The game ended in a 35-35 tie.

In terms of active players with the best opening weekend performances, Texans RB Arian Foster rushed for 233 yards and three TD’s vs. the Colts in 2012, which is second to O.J. Simpson. Patriots QB Tom Brady passed for 517-yards, and four TD’s vs. the Dolphins in 2011 and sits behind Van Brocklin.  The top active pass catcher with the best opening day receiving stats is the 49ers Anquan Boldin, who hauled in 10-passes for 217 yards and scored two touchdowns vs. Detroit in 2003.

Of course, Manning’s seven touchdowns will be something to marvel at for decades to come when we talk about the opening weekend in the NFL. We started with No.18, so let us end with him as well. With Denver’s win on Thursday, Manning is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win at least 12 consecutive regular-season games three separate times in a career. The Broncos entered the contest having won their final 11-games of the 2012 season.

Have a great opening weekend.

Friday Football Frenzy on the F.S.R.N

August 24, 2013 in Green Bay Packers, NFL, NFL Game Preview, NFL Preseason, NFL Preview

T.G.I.F…..Thank God It’s Frenzy Time on the FANSPEAK RADIO NETWORK.

Join Alan Zlotorzynski and Stephen Shoup for the Friday Football Frenzy, tonight at 9:00 p.m., on the Fanspeak Radio Network. The Frenzy is proudly brought to you by Fanspeak.com and The Fantasy Sports Warehouse (.com)..NFC-North-Roundtable-Podcast-Image

Before breaking down the all-important third game of the preseason for NFL teams, Alan & Steve get you up to speed on all the news from around the NFL. They will weigh in on the Von Miller and check in on all of the important training camp battles, as well as any injuries and transactions.

The guys then recap Thursdays NFL action, as the Super Bowl Champs and the team they beat in the AFC Championship game were both in action. The Ravens and Patriots looked less than stellar in their dress rehearsals for the regular season, as the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers defenses rose to the occasion. What did we learn last night and what will we learn before the end of the weekend, as the rest of the NFL teams put their starters to the test for much of the game….the guys will have the answer.

After Alan breaks down the Ravens performance, Steve will have the weekly Redskins report, as they prepare to face the Buffalo Bills.

After the Ravens and Redskins report, the guys will turn their attention to the NFC North, as they continue to preview the NFL by divisions. Will the Packers simply show up and win the division or will the Vikings on the legs and back of Adrian Peterson return to the playoffs. What impact will Reggie Bush have in Detroit and what does new head coach Marc Trestman have in store for Bears QB Jay Cutler?

The guys will then give you a few quick takes on what to look for fantasy football wise this weekend and breakdown the IDP’s…….or individual defensive players.

Showtime is 9:00 and will run for three hours. CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO SHOW

The Friday Football Frenzy on Fanspeak Radio Tonight At 9

August 16, 2013 in FANSPEAK RADIO NETWORK, NFL, NFL Game Preview

T.G.I.F—Thank God It’s Frenzy Time on the Fanspeak Radio Network.

Join Alan Zlotorzynski and Stephen Shoup from Fanspeak.com for the FRIDAY FOOTBALL FRENZY brought to you by The Fantasy Sports Warehouse and Fansperak.com tonight at 9:00 p.m.nfc-west (1)

The guys will begin by getting you up to speed on all of the news and injury notes from around the world of NFL training camps. Alan & Steve will then recap Thursday’s preseason games and preview the rest of the weekend tilt.

After last night’s games, Alan & Steve will settle the QB situations in Philly and Cleveland and tell you why the Lions could be headed for yet another dismal season. The guys will give you their 5 takeaways from last night and 5 things to watch for this week in the NFL.

Then it’s the Ravens and Redskins report on the Frenzy. Alan will breakdown the Ravens win that felt like a loss and Steve previews the Skins the matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers and tells us if the RG3 and Mike Shanahan situation bears watching.

The guys will then deliver the Fanspeak Fantasy Football segment. With most fantasy drafts taking place this weekend and next, Alan & Steve will caution you on common mistakes made on draft night and breakdown team defenses. They will also give you sleepers and busts for the upcoming season.

The show finishes up with the guys continuing to breakdown the divisions. Last week it was the AFC East, so it’s back to the NFC this week and the West division. Alan & Steve debate why either the Seahawks or 49ers make the playoffs but not both.

Showtime is 9:00 p.m. and you can follow Alan on Twitter @zlotsports and Steve @steveospeak.

SUNDAY NFL FRENZY ON FANSPEAK RADIO NETWORK

August 4, 2013 in NFL, NFL Game Preview, NFL Observations, NFL Predictions, NFL Preseason

Join Alan Zlotorzynski and Stephen Shoup, of Fanspeak.com for a special Sunday edition of “Friday Football Frenzy” …..Show starts at 6, click on link for details.

Tonight, the guys will recap the week that was in the NFL, as they update the injury news and they will have at least one tidbit about every team’s first week in camp.

Alan & Steve will recap the Hall of Fame inductions, as Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, Chris Carter, Bill Parcels and others were inducted into Canton on Saturday night. The guys will then preview Week 1 of the NFL Preseason, which begins tonight with the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins playing in the Hall of Fame game.

With only 32 days until the Broncos and Ravens kick off the NFL season, it’s time to get into predicting how each division will stack up in 2013. Tonight, Alan and Steve will break down the AFC East. Will the Patriots continue to reign supreme despite losing most of Tom Brady’s favorite targets? Will the Dolphins offseason spending spree help them catch NE and how much will rookie QB’s play in Buffalo and NY this season?

The FANSPEAK FANTASY FOOTBALL GUIDE is set for release tomorrow, when you can download it FOR FREE on FANSPEAK.COM— In honor of this occasion, Alan & Steve will break down the QB position, and recap the RB’s, WR’s & TE’s. It’s no secret that Aaron Rodgers , Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are three of the top fantasy QB’s in the game but what other signal callers could join them as elite and which ones could fall this season, Alan & Steve will have the answers.

Showtime is set for 6:00 p.m.