QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK…</strong>
“We do not pre-approve prospective owners of NFL clubs and did not do so in Mr. Limbaugh’s case. At all times we have been clear with prospective purchasers of the Rams or any other club that approval of an owner could only be granted by a vote of the 32 clubs after complete financial and personal due diligence, which obviously has not taken place here.” — Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman
The thought of Rush Limbaugh being involved with an NFL team caused a firestorm last week. Here was his take on the situation:
“I said to [Dave Checketts] at this meeting, ‘Are you aware of the firestorm?’ He said, ‘Believe me, I wouldn’t have approached you if I hadn’t taken care of that, if I had not cleared your involvement with people at the highest levels of the National Football League.’ He gave me a couple of names, pretty high up. Led me to believe it was all handled. And he was fully prepared for what was going to happen.”
The NFL is very detailed and precise in its rules involving the sale of teams. Before interested persons can be considered as potential owners, they must first demonstrate that they have the ability to purchase a team within the framework of league rules. The NFL does not want its owners to have numerous partners; it wants one major investor who can show that he or she has the ability to pay the going rate for an NFL franchise. What Aiello said above is the procedure the NFL follows. Potential owners are not pre-approved until their finances are well known.
It does matter to the players who owns the team. But right now, the Rams need to sell their team. They need an owner who’s going to implement a plan that’s based on winning, not on preparing the team for sale.
“Character is a constant point of emphasis for the NFL and team officials when it comes to the players; potential owners should be held to the same level of scrutiny and accountability.” — Roman Oben
AROUND THE NFL…
“There are two kinds of men who never amount to much: those who cannot do what they are told and those who can do nothing else.” — Cyrus H. Curtis (1850 – 1933)
1. The Bucs’ trade of Gaines Adams is not a surprise. Since being drafted No. 4 overall in 2007, Adams hasn’t played well. What was interesting, though, was that he played the best game of his career two weeks ago against the Redskins. He flashed skills, and I’m sure the Bears feel they can maximize his talents with their defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli. The Bears will have the option to buy back the final year of his contract in 2012, allowing them to keep Adams for three years.
2. The Bears could not find a corner, so they found another defensive end to help them attack the pocket. If they can get Adams to reach his potential, it will help their defense more than any corner could. The Bears have gone all in this year. Now, without a second-round pick — or a first — expect them to take that money and extend Jay Cutler.
3. I’m hearing from my NFL sources that the Bucs’ front office is a house divided, which usually happens when a team takes the committee approach. Mark Dominik, the current general manager, and Doug Williams, the pro personnel director, don’t always agree on things, and there seems to be some dysfunction going on inside the organization.
4. The Bucs say they’ll start playing rookie QB Josh Freeman when center Jeff Faine comes back from his injury. They want someone who can help handle the line calls and allow Freeman to focus on just playing quarterback.
5. The Bears tried to trade tight end Michael Gaines before they released him Saturday, and I suspect he’ll be signed by one of the many teams in need of a blocking tight end. The Jets have been using Wayne Hunter to block, and I suspect they’ll give Gaines serious thought.
6. I believe Eric ‘The Secret” Mangini when he says he’s not trying to trade former starter Brady Quinn. Quinn doesn’t have much value around the NFL right now. At this point, I don’t think they could get much for the former first-rounder.
7. If the Browns decide to trade Josh Cribbs (I hear he’s not available), they might lose their team. Cribbs in one of the few good players the Browns have left.
8. The Chiefs are trying to move former 2005 first-round linebacker Derrick Johnson and 2008 third-round safety DeJuan Morgan. Todd Haley and Co. are making no secret about their unhappiness with the players they inherited from the previous regime. I’m hearing they don’t like anyone, including Branden Albert, who they feel is not a left tackle.
9. I don’t often agree with DeAngelo Hall, but he’s right when he says the Redskins lack talent to compete in the NFC East. After losing their starting left tackle, Chris Samuels, for an extended period, the team’s offensive line has gone from bad to worse. When they make a coaching change for next year, many of these offensive players will not be on the roster. With the lack of talent on their offensive line, you have to wonder why the ‘Skins passed on Michael Oher to select Brian Orakpo.
10. This is a big game for LaDainian Tomlinson to prove he’s back and healthy — and, more important, to prove he can still be an effective runner. He needs to show the Chargers and the rest of the league that he can still be the man.
11. Sam Bradford’s decision not to leave Oklahoma early last year for the draft keeps looking like a mistake. He re-injured his throwing shoulder Saturday in the Texas game but will need to have it strong and ready to throw by mid-April next year — or else he’ll drop in the draft.
MY VIEW OF TODAY’S GAMES, PLUS NOTES AND WEATHER…
“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
There are currently five undefeated teams remaining — most in the history of the NFL through the first five weeks of a season: Denver (5-0), Indy (5-0), Minnesota (5-0), the New York Giants (5-0) and New Orleans (4-0).
Six of the eight divisions currently have new teams in first place compared to a year ago. If that holds, it will tie 2003 and 2008 for the most new division winners in a single season.
Through the first five weeks of the season, teams with a 300-yard passer have a combined record of 23-8 (.742). The 23 combined wins for clubs with a 300-yard passer are the most in NFL history through the first five weeks of a season.
Key stats to watch:
2009 Rushes and Completions
Rank Team G Rushes Completions Total Total per G
1 Mia 5 183 96 279 55.8
2 NYG 5 180 98 278 55.6
3 NO 4 134 87 221 55.3
4 Sea 5 144 127 271 54.2
5 NE 5 139 127 266 53.2
6 Pit 5 130 128 258 51.6
7 Den 5 152 104 256 51.2
8 Bal 5 136 119 255 51.0
9 Atl 4 121 82 203 50.8
10 Ind 5 118 133 251 50.2
11 Min 5 143 107 250 50.0
12 Det 5 141 108 249 49.8
13t Cin 5 144 97 241 48.2
13t Hou 5 126 115 241 48.2
15 Phi 4 102 89 191 47.8
16 NYJ 5 161 75 236 47.2
17 Dal 5 136 96 232 46.4
18 KC 5 138 93 231 46.2
19 Ari 4 73 111 184 46.0
20 Ten 5 120 106 226 45.2
21t Car 4 103 77 180 45.0
21t Was 5 127 98 225 45.0
23 Jac 5 123 101 224 44.8
24 Chi 4 96 83 179 44.8
25 Cle 5 138 84 222 44.4
26 StL 5 130 91 221 44.2
27 Buf 5 127 87 214 42.8
28 GB 4 94 77 171 42.8
29 TB 5 112 101 213 42.6
30 SD 4 80 88 168 42.0
31 SF 5 126 81 207 41.4
32 Oak 5 126 53 179 35.8
Tot 152 4103 3119 7222 47.5
Avg 5 128 97 226 47.5
Houston Texans (2-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)
Sunny and cool, highs right around 50 degrees with winds relatively calm at 8 mph. No chance of rain.
Matt Schaub has 10 touchdown passes — more than any other player in the NFL not named Manning (Peyton has 12; Eli has 10).
Last season, Steve Slaton was sixth in the NFL with 1,282 rushing yards, 4.8 per rush. This year, Slaton is 24th in the NFL with 231 rushing yards, a 3.2 average.
The Texans are 30th in the NFL in rushing offense (75.4 YPG) and 31st with 3.0 yards per rush. Most of their problems come from opponents’ ability to defend their zone scheme and take advantage of their lack of power in their offensive line.
All five of the Bengals’ games have been decided by seven points or fewer, and four of the five were decided by a score in the final 22 seconds of regulation or overtime. The Bengals are very comfortable playing in close games and finding ways to win.
The Bengals are very physical and will be able to control the line of scrimmage in the game. They’ll need to pressure Schaub if they’re going to shut down the Texans’ passing game.
The kicking game will be huge. The team that wins that phase will win the game. The Texans can return and cover kicks and punts, but at times the Bengals have problems covering.
Jonathan Joseph has an interception in each of the past three games. The last Bengals player with an interception in four straight games was Deltha O’Neal in 2005. Joseph and Leon Hall have shut down their opponents’ top receivers this year.
Notable wide receivers against the Bengals
Week Rec Yds
BAL Derrick Mason 5 0 0
PIT Santonio Holmes 3 1 18
GB Greg Jennings 2 0 0
DEN Brandon Marshall 1 4 27
The Bengals need to throw the ball effectively. With Carson Palmer’s bad thumb, it might be a challenge in the cold weather.
Detroit Lions (1-4) at Green Bay Packers (2-2)
Partly cloudy and cool, highs in the low 50s, with a 20-percent chance of rain. Winds are expected to reach 11 mph.
The Packers are 2-1 under Mike McCarthy in games following a bye week and have won nine of their past 13 coming off a bye.
Leading the NFL with 14.3 yards per reception, Green Bay is one of the best teams at gaining yards after the catch.
The Packers are tied for second in NFL with a plus-7 turnover differential but are just 2-2. They’ve been outscored by their opponents 27-0 in the third quarter. They need to make the right adjustments at the half or change their plan.
The Lions can coach their way to being competitive in the first half, but they don’t have enough talent to make the second adjustment, which is why they’ve been outscored 47-17 in the third quarter and 85-36 overall in the second half. They can only hide for so long.
The Packers have to find a way to get Aaron Kampman going. He has one sack this season. He had four sacks in the first four games last season. I bet they spent a good portion of the bye week working on ways to make this happen.
Scott Linehan, the Lions’ offensive coordinator, has done a good job creating a run and pass game. The Lions have been well balanced, but their lack of talent shows up on defense. They’re too slow, miss too many tackles and can’t get off the field when they play any of their base schemes. The 2010 draft will be all about defense.
St. Louis Rams (0-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)
Sunny and cool for Jacksonville with highs around 70 degrees. Wind could be critical. It’s forecast at 14 mph.
The Rams have been outscored by their opponents 26-0 in the first quarter. Even more distressing, St. Louis’ second half deficit is 79-10. The Rams have no strengths as a team; they are weak in every area.
In their last two games, the Rams have been outscored 73-10. They’re one of three teams without a rushing TD (the Bills and Chiefs are the others).
The Rams are 31st in turnover differential at minus-7. Also, they are 30th in red zone TD percentage (three TDs in 10 red zone trips, 30 percent) and last in red zone scoring percentage (three TDs and one FG in 10 red zone trips, 40 percent).
Marc Bulger is 4-26 in his last 30 starts. Over that time period, the Rams have passed on Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez in the draft.
The Jaguars are 30th in the NFL in total defense and pass defense. Their four sacks this season are tied with Jets for fewest in the league.
Mike Sims-Walker had 19 receptions, 278 yards and three TDs in his previous three games before being inactive last week for violating team rules. He’s one of their best players on offense, and they need him to be effective.
David Garrard has one interception in 169 pass attempts, joining Aaron Rodgers and Kyle Orton for fewest among starting QBs.
Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (5-0)
Indoor game. Outside, partly cloudy and cool, highs in the mid 50s.
The Ravens must pressure Brett Favre on his throwing side from the defensive left, which is where the Vikings are weak. Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will be tough for the Vikings to handle inside and will create problems for right guard Anthony Herrera.
The Baltimore defense must force the game to become one-dimensional and force Favre to prove he can make throws in a tight spot. They must keep him in the pocket and make him to throw in tight quarters.
The Ravens have scored just 35 points in their past two games after averaging 34.3 PPG in their first three games. They need to deal with the crowd noise and keep the Vikings off balance with their play calling. Expect the Ravens to move the ball both running and passing.
Ray Rice is seventh in the NFL with 364 rush yards and is averaging 5.8 yards per rush. He also leads the team with 23 receptions and is second in the NFL with 572 yards from scrimmage
The Ravens’ Jarret Johnson has four sacks, one shy of his career high set last season. He’s a true playmaker on defense.
The Ravens must have a game plan for Jared Allen in protection and for plays away. He’s creating problems, and they must run right at him and force him to not get off on the snap count. Teams must hard count the Vikings’ defensive line, especially at home. Allen is third in the NFL with 6