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Morning Buzz: Where will Peppers be in 2010?

Plus, Campbell's future, Rex Ryan and more. Matt Bowen

Print This December 30, 2009, 09:10 AM EST

Let’s check out and see what is happening around the league…

Carolina

From PantherGrowl.com: However, at least one teammate thinks Peppers might be warming up to the idea of returning next season given how well the Panthers are clicking on defense. Carolina has forced 27 turnovers in the past nine games and Peppers has been a large part of the havoc-causing process, leaving everyone to wonder just how good they’ll be next year after another year under defensive coordinator Ron Meeks and with getting players like Thomas Davis, Maake Kemoeatu and Louis Leonard back from injuries.

Where will Peppers be in 2010? I can understand why the defensive end would want to return under defensive coordinator Ron Meeks—a coach I know from my playing days way back in St. Louis. Meeks does a good job of connecting with his players and now that his Tampa 2 scheme is providing results, along with the improved play of the offense under QB Matt Moore, the future in Carolina is a lot more appealing than it once was when the defense was constantly put into poor field position earlier in the season. Now the question is simple: how much cash is it going to take for Peppers to wear No. 90 in Charlotte next season? Or, is he off to a defense that uses a 3-4 front, such as Miami and Green Bay? We should see massive payout numbers.

Houston

From Examiner.com: Yes, the Texans are alive in the playoff race. Barely.
They are one of five teams at 8-7 vying for two spots. They have tiebreaker edges over one of them (Pittsburgh).It looks hopeless, but crazy things often happen on the last day of the season. The Texans took care of business in beating the Dolphins 27-20. They now have a chance at the franchises first-ever winning record if they can beat the Patriots on Sunday at Reliant. They also have to hope for some luck. Quite simply, here is what has to happen: The Texans have to win, and two out of these three teams -- the Broncos, Ravens and Jets -- have to lose.

If you follow the NFP, then you know what is coming of this: a payout to fellow NFP writer  Michael Lombardi, who promised me that the Texans would once again miss out on the playoffs. Fair enough, but with the Patriots on the schedule this Sunday—and possibly resting players—if the Texans get to 9-7, is that enough to keep head coach Gary Kubiak around? Our sources say that this strong finish from Houston will keep Kubiak in town, but how often do you see team management settling for a 9-7 or 8-8 season? Sooner, rather than later, Kubiak will be told that it is playoffs or bust in Houston.

Dallas

From DallasNews.com: Austin's selection was the most surprising given that he did not start the first four games of the year and had just five catches for 81 yards and a touchdown as a reserve. But in Week 4 at Denver, Roy Williams suffered a rib injury that kept him from playing the next week at Kansas City. In his first start, Austin caught 10 passes for a franchise-record 250 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime against the Chiefs. Since then he has flourished. Entering the season finale against the Eagles, Austin has 74 catches for 1,230 yards and 11 touchdowns and is the first homegrown Cowboys wide receiver to make the Pro Bowl since Michael Irvin in 1995.

I am not going to argue about who should be in or who should be out when it comes to Pro Bowl voting in the NFL, but I do like seeing Mile Austin on the roster. The problem with Dallas prior to Austin wasn’t the running game or Tony Romo—those are just fine. It was the fact that Dallas did not have a receiver who could catch a slant route and produce big yards after the catch. Austin is so valuable to this team because he can use his speed and athleticism on basic routes—easy throws for Romo to make—turning what would be a 8-yard pass with Roy Williams into a 25-yard plus gain. He is that good with the football in his hands out in the open field.

New England

From BostonHerald.com: With his finger on the pulse of his players, defensive coordinator Dean Pees has no trouble gauging the unit’s mindset after three stellar performances. “Guys are gaining some confidence back,” Pees said yesterday. “I think they lost it a little bit there midway in the season. We had a couple rough goes at it and anytime that happens your confidence gets a little bit down. Once you start having some success, that confidence grows.” The defense has allowed 27 points over the past three games, fewer than any other team in that span. The 888 yards allowed is better than all but two teams over the past three weeks.

The reason that the Pats are once again becoming a hot name heading into January is the defense. I have never been concerned about Brady and the offense, because they can beat you in multiple ways with multiple formations and personnel. But, until the last three games, I haven’t bought into the idea that the Patriots defense is playoff ready. And, even in saying that, I am not going to put much stock into shutting down David Garrard and a over-hyped Jacksonville team. Let’s see what this unit can do against San Diego or Indy in January before we say that their issues have been resolved.

Washington

From WashigntonPost.com: "I'm very worried about the situation I've been put in," Campbell said. "I've been hit so much, it's not even fair. I just call it like it is." Here he paused, and then the old Campbell returned. "I'm just gonna leave it alone." Those three sentences are the closest Campbell has come to whining about the pummeling he's taken this season. For Coach Jim Zorn -- a former NFL quarterback who was twice sacked 44 times in a single season -- that might have been three sentences too many.

I am still amazed every time I see Jason Campbell get back up off of the ground in the games he plays for the Redskins—especially the last two games against New York and Dallas. But, I do give him credit. He was right in the middle of trade talks this past off-season, is playing for a coach who has basically been abandoned by the building and he most likely will not be the QB in Washington next season. However, what is the value for Campbell right now? Do teams come after him with the idea that this season is not a part of the true evaluation process? Or, will Campbell be like Zorn, a castoff from a dreadful experiment? I still see a lot of value in Campbell, love his release and after his season, consider him one of the toughest QBs in the NFL. If I need a QB, I take a hard look at him this spring.

New York

From NJ.com: Jets coach Rex Ryan feels his team isn’t getting any respect for its controversial 29-15 victory over the Colts on Sunday because quarterback Peyton Manning didn’t go the distance. Manning was pulled with 5:36 left to play in the third quarter and the Colts leading by five points — 15-10. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 192 yards, no TDs and no INTs before exiting. ‘‘There’s very little credit that our football team’s given and that’s unfortunate,’’ Ryan said Monday. ‘‘It bothers me a little bit. You have to earn everything you get in this league. Whether you’re playing against a starter or backup, whatever. For half the year, people played against our backup nose tackle (starter Kris Jenkins is out with a knee injury). I don’t think anybody’s made note of that. I know this is Peyton Manning or whatever, but he did play two-and-a-half quarters.”

There is plenty of talk around the league about the Colts decision to sit Peyton Manning and others in the second half on Sunday, and I can understand why Rex Ryan is upset about the lack of respect. However, the Jets once again could face the same situation this Sunday night when they host the Bengals—who could also rest some players. If the Jets win, expect the same criticism for a team that will have faced two teams using preseason guidelines to finish games. Still as issue for Ryan? Then go out and win in the post season. That is the only way I see his team getting the respect he so desperately wants right now.

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