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2010 NFL Season – Week 6 Preview by Lloyd Vance

RB Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings (1-3) will host the Dallas Cowboys (1-3) in a key Week 6 match-up being called “The Desperation Bowl”

I am dubbing Week 6 of the 2010 NFL Season, “Moving Week”.  This is the time where teams start to distinguish themselves as “Contenders” and “Pretenders”.  Teams will either soon be preparing for key November and December games with playoff implications or eventually start their studying  for the 2011 NFL Draft.  As hard as it is to believe, the NFL season is moving closer to being half over.  But the important thing for everyone is to enjoy the wackiest and quickest league around while it is lasts. 

There clearly is a sense of high anticipation for Week 6 of the 2010 NFL Season.  Some great storylines for this week are the return of Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger from his 4-game suspension (Steelers host Cleveland), Brett Favre’s alleged “Sexting” incident investigation, coaches fighting to stay off the “Hot Seat” (fill-in Carolina’s John Fox, Browns Eric Mangini and the Niners’ Mike Singletary), the Return of Receiver Deion Branch to New England and most importantly on the field there are 8 match-ups where teams at .500 or better will be playing each other. 

Already the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins have celebrated their past perfection as there are not any undefeated teams left – hard to believe a record five teams were 5-0 entering Week 6 in 2009.   Parity is extremely prevalent as there are currently 20 teams with a winning percentage of .500 or better….so please let the sorting out begin.  However from week to week, you don’t know which supposed “powerhouse” is going to be falling back to the pack as “Any Given Sunday” still rules.  In Week 5, it was the former 2009 AFC North Champion Cincinnati Bengals’ turn to get upset.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went on the road in a “Mission Impossible” situation and shocked many by producing a hard-fought 24-21 win over the highly favored Bengals.

The current standings show that there is little separation in this parity-laden league.   There are the “Elite” teams at (4-1) are the NY Jets, Ravens, Falcons, Bears (4 teams) along with (3-1) teams Chiefs, Bucs, Steelers, Patriots (4 teams) – Is anyone penciling any of these teams in Super Bowl XLV?; The “Contenders” at (3-2) are Colts, Jags, Eagles, Redskins, NY Giants, Titans, Cardinals, Texans, Saints, and Packers; The “Stuck In the Middle” teams at (2-2) are the Seahawks, Dolphins  along with (2-3) teams Rams, Chargers, Raiders, Broncos, and Bengals; The “Pretenders” currently stuck  at (1-3) are the Vikings and Cowboys (will play this week) along with (1-4) teams  the Lions and Browns; and of course bringing up the rear are the “Putrid” teams at (0-5) (i.e. You should just skip to the 2011 NFL Draft) Panthers, Bills, and Niners.

The division leaders after 5 weeks feature also have some unexpected surprises — Washington Redskins (NFC East – 3 teams at 3-2 in this division), Chicago Bears (NFC North), Atlanta Falcons (NFC South), Arizona Cardinals (NFC West), Baltimore Ravens (AFC North), Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West), New York Jets (AFC East), and Tennessee Titans (AFC South – Every team in AFC South is 3-2). Sadly some of my division winner picks from my 2010 predictions are not looking too well – they were the Cowboys, Niners, Packers, Saints, Ravens, Broncos, Colts, and Patriots – but it ain’t over yet. Brash New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said of his team’s current place in the NFL standings, “We’re 4-1 and right on schedule.  We want to have the best record in the NFL at the end of the season and right now we’re on schedule”.

The factor that everyone hopes will lead to more competitive games is “adjustments”.  The NFL is a copycat league where teams can catch-up quickly and adjustments are the only way to stay ahead of the pack and combat falling behind.  With the third round of bye weeks about to take place, it is time for the “good” coaches to make the adjustments necessary to get their teams back on track or keeping them at the top.  Remember early season results are important (don’t want to get too far behind), but good coaches realize that they want their team peaking in the championship months of November and December when it is playoff push time.

But as usual I am cautioning NFL fans to not jump off their respective teams’ bandwagons.  All is not lost for most NFL teams going into Week 6 –- well at least those with 1 or more wins…yes even the in-fighting Dallas Cowboys (1-3) still can turn things around.  Since the current 12-team playoff format was instituted in 1990, 11 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.  Of those 11, six won their division, including the 2008 San Diego Chargers, who won the AFC West after a 4-8 start.  Also in 2008, the Indianapolis Colts record stood at 3-4 going into a crucial game against the New England Patriots. Quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts answered the bell winning 18-15 then rattled off nine straight wins to make the playoffs with a 12-4 record.

Some match-ups already being discussed around water coolers are:

Kansas City Chiefs (3-1) at Houston Texans (3-2) – The old Texans — KC Chiefs were once the AFL’s Dallas Texans — take on the new Texans.  Both these teams are looking to make the jump into “legitimate” contenders.  The Chiefs definitely want to show the NFL that they are not done yet after suffering their first loss last week to the Colts by a score of 19-9.  Kansas City will need better quarterback play from Matt Cassel while the Texans better find a running game, if Arian Foster can’t go. LV’s Pick – Texans

Indianapolis Colts (3-2) at Washington Redskins (3-2) – This one is a battle of two veteran quarterbacks as Peyton Manning faces-off with Donovan McNabb.  The Redskins have been winning “ugly” and continue to play very good defense plus former Pro Bowl DT Albert Haynesworth will be back after attending the funeral of his brother.  While the Colts may have turned the corner after a physical win over the Chiefs last week.  Indy still needs to run the ball better and play better on defense to get the win.  LV’s Pick – Colts

Miami Dolphins (2-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-2) – The physical Dolphins will want to establish the run behind RB’s Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams – possibly some Wildcat — against the Packers’ injury depleted defense.  The Packers’ offense will definitely be without their two top tight ends and possibly quarterback Aaron Rodgers (concussion), so it will be interesting to see how they generate points on offense against the Dolphins attacking defense.  LV’s Pick – Packers

Atlanta Falcons (4-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) – The young Falcons want to show the NFL that they are indeed a top team as quarterback Matt Ryan returns to Philly.  Look for Atlanta to pound the ball with RB Michael Turner (NFL’s 2nd ranked rushing attack) against the Eagles’ 25th ranked run defense – No DT Broderick Bunkley (elbow).  For the Eagles expect to see starter Kevin Kolb again as Michael Vick (rib cartilage) is too beat-up to face his old team.  Maybe Kolb will be able to get back in synch with WR’s Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. But the Eagles’ O-line is banged-up including LT Jason Peters (knee) being out.  LV’s Pick – Falcons

Baltimore Ravens (4-1) at New England Patriots (3-1) – The top undercard bout to the Cowboys-Vikings main event as two teams that met in the 2009 Wildcard round renew acquaintances.  In last year’s playoff game, the Ravens pounded the Patriots in a 33-14 victory, in particularly QB Tom Brady (2 INTs and 1 fumble in the loss), but this looks like a different New England team.  Expect a physical black-and-blue battle.  The team that can most effectively run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense is going to win this game.  Watch for the match-up of the Ravens LB’s (3rd ranked NFL defense) and the Patriots offensive line.  Surprisingly the Patriots are 5-0 in the regular season against Baltimore. LV’s Pick – Ravens

Lloyd’s Leftovers

NFL Trade Deadline is approaching – Wednesday October 19th is the NFL Trade Deadline and for the first time in a while, there is some “buzz” around the date.  Already the NFL saw the trades sending former New England Patriots WR Randy Moss – along with a 7th rounder — to the receiver-desperate Minnesota Vikings for a 3rd rounder in 2011.  Watch for the names like Chargers holdout WR Vincent Jackson, New England Patriots holdout OG Logan Mankins, Philadelphia Eagles QB Kevin Kolb, Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars WR Mike Sims-Walker, and Green Bay Packers LB AJ Hawk.  Speaking of holdouts V. Jackson and Mankins, the NFLPA has instructed them to report to their respective teams in order to not lose an accrued season of service — the deadline for Mankins is November 16. Of course I never hold my breath around the trade deadline, as trades like the 2005 deal where former Niners QB Tim Rattay went to the Tampa Bay Bucs for a future 6th rd pick are usually the norm.

Next Man Up – Whether in training camp or Super Bowl week, injuries are always going to be an unfortunate part of the NFL….and owners are pushing for an 18-game regular season (yeah right!), but that is a conversation for another time.   Some key injuries that will have to be dealt with leading up to Week 6 are Rams WR Mark Clayton – Knee (season), Chargers OLB Larry English – Foot, Packers TE Jermichael Finley – MCL (season??), Packers QB Aaron Rodgers – Concussion, Lions WR Calvin Johnson – Shoulder, Colts RB Joseph Addai – Shoulder, Texans RB Arian Foster – Knee, Browns RB Peyton Hillis – Quad, Cowboys WR Dez Bryant – Ankle, Browns QB Seneca Wallace – Ankle, Browns QB Jake Delhomme – Ankle, Packers OLB Clay Matthews – Hamstring, NY Jets CB Darrelle Revis – Hamstring, Eagles DT Broderick Bunkley – Elbow (season??), and Eagles OT Jason Peters – Knee (season??).  However some good news on the injury is that Baltimore Ravens S Ed Reed is very close to returning from a hip injury that has sidelined him since the start of the 2010 season.

Just Send Him to the Hall – It may have not been a masterpiece, but Arizona Cardinals quarterback Max Hall (25) did just enough to get his first win — over the New Orleans Saints by a score of 30-20 – in his first NFL start. The nephew of former Dallas Cowboys QB Danny White finished the game with numbers passing numbers: 17 of 27 for 168 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT.  The former BYU star became the first undrafted rookie free agent quarterback to start and win against the defending Super Bowl champs in more than 42 years, since the Steelers’ Kent Nix did it against Green Bay on Dec. 17, 1967.  Cardinals’ teammate WR Larry Fitzgerald exaggeratingly praised his new quarterback by saying, ‘He’s 29 years old, man”.  Fitzgerald added, ‘He’s the oldest rookie in the history of the NFL. He’s been on his mission for about 10 years, then he went back to BYU, he went to ASU, he was a sixth-year senior out here at Mountain View, he’s been at it for a long time.’

Further Proof that the NFL is a Pass-First League — Quarterbacks Philip Rivers (1,759) of the San Diego Chargers, Kyle Orton (1,733) of the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning (1,609) of the Indianapolis Colts have each passed for over 1,600 yards in their team’s first five games in the 2010 NFL Season.  The pass-happy quarterbacks have made history as for the first time in the NFL, there are three quarterbacks with at least 1,600 passing yards through their team’s first five games of a season.
 

Week 6 Feature Game

DALLAS COWBOYS (1-3) at MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-3) (Sunday, FOX, 4:00 PM ET) – Mall of America Field    

Broadcast Team: Thom Brennanaman, Troy Aikman, Chris Myers and Pam Oliver (Field Reporter)

High anxiety will be in the air at the Metrodome in a game that everyone is appropriately dubbing “The Desperation Bowl”.  This game is a rematch of the 2009 NFL Divisional Playoffs (won handily by the Vikings 34-3).  But this early season game has taken on an even bigger aurora as both the Cowboys and Vikings enter this game with a record of 1-3.  Though a “lose” in this match-up is technically not a death sentence, there will be little hope for the loser — Since 1990 only five out of 240 playoff teams have started with a record of 1-4, which is only 2 % . Especially when both teams entered the 2010 NFL Season with extremely high hopes. 

The expected raucous crowd should be hyped for this “Loser Leaves Town” match-up and a big reason will be each team’s respective quarterback.  In last year’s playoff lose, the Cowboys QB Tony Romo (sacked 6 times and hit often in the playoff loss) was a disaster and had trouble dealing with pressure brought from the Vikings’ D-line, especially DE Jared Allen.  It will be incumbent on the Cowboys’ shaky offensive line (allowed 6 sacks in Week 5 loss to the Titans) to protect Romo (119-174, 1346 yards (2nd in NFC), 7 TDs and 5 INTs) this time around.  The key person on the offensive line will be OG Montrae Holland who is replacing benched inconsistent high-price tag player Leonard Davis (seven-year, $49 million contract). Romo will definitely be trying to get the ball to his stellar receiving corps of TE Jason Witten, rookie WR Dez Bryant (ankle), WR Roy Williams, and Pro Bowl WR Miles Austin (31 receptions for NFC-leading 474 yards, 15.3 ypr, and 2 TDs). 

But in my opinion, the Cowboys would be best served by slowing down the Vikings speedy attacking defense by re-establishing their dormant rushing attack — Felix Jones leads the team with only 197 rushing yards and 0 TDs.  Surprisingly even with head coach Wade Phillips on Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones’ Hot Seat, young offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has chosen to put the ball in the air over and over instead of going to his three-headed monster of Jones, Marion Barber, and Tashard Choice.  Romo has averaged 43.5 attempts per game including a high of 47 in a Week 1 loss to the Redskins.  The Cowboys must bring back forgotten player, Barber (has just six carries in 2010), to have any chance to win this game. However finding holes against the Vikings D-line led by the Williams Wall (DT’s Pat and Kevin Williams) will not be easy.

However everyone knows that Romo is a just a “bit” player in this marquee match-up as the NFL’s media circus has descended on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.  To say the least the 2010 NFL Season has been a nightmare for No. 4.  The 41-year old passer/grandfather came out of another brief retirement looking recapture his 2009 form, but all hell has broken loose.  Favre (74-131, 861 yards, 5 TDs, 7 INTs (same number as the entire ’09 season) and a 67.0 quarterback rating) has been battling an elbow injury that clearly has made him “less” than effective in his first 4 games and he is even contemplating sitting out a game or two, which would end his NFL record 289 consecutive games ironman streak.  He has been hit often (sacked every 14 pass plays) and his receiving corps has be decimated by injuries — leading receiver Sidney Rice has been out all season due to hip surgery and former Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin is battling migraine issues. 

Madden’s favorite kid-like quarterback has looked beleaguered, old, and disinterested as his team has stumbled out the gate.  And to make matters worse, the married Favre has been embroiled in an alleged “Sexting” controversy courtesy of his 2008 stay with the NY Jets.  The website Deadspin.com has been driving the story that Favre made inappropriate advances toward former Jets’ reports Jenn Sterger including some salacious voicemails and photos.  The NFL’s favorite future Hall of Famer has tried to stay above the fray, but now the league is getting involved and you know it has to be affecting the 19-year veteran’s play – only was 14 of 34 and had a bad game-closing interception (returned for a TD) in a 29-20 loss to the NY Jets in Week 5.  The good thing is that the Favre does have new buddy, receiver Randy Moss, more acclimated after a whirlwind couple of days last week (traded at mid-week and played against the NY Jets on MNF).  We see if the two can hook-up again after they connected on a 37-yard touchdown against the NY Jets.  Also I want to see if the Vikings equally inconsistent offensive line can stay away from penalties and stop the Cowboys explosive pass rushing tandem DeMarcus Ware (2nd in the NFL with 6 sacks) and Anthony Spencer.  The position on the Vikings’ O-line will be their center position which has not been the same since starter John Sullivan has a calf injury.

As is the case with Romo, the Vikings would be best served giving Favre some run support, especially with his on-going elbow problems.  Outside of Moss and Harvin, the rest of the Vikings receiving corps are “just guys”.  So Minnesota needs to establish running back Adrian Peterson (88 rushes for an NFC leading 480 yards, 5.5 ypc, and 3 TDs plus no fumbles).  The aggressive runner would be the perfect medicine to soften-up the Cowboys speedy 3-4 defense, so Favre doesn’t have to throw the ball over 30 times.  

The Cowboys allowed 158 yards rushing last week to the Tennessee Titans in a 34-27 loss. The Cowboys will surely pack the box in order to take away Peterson and make sure that Favre is healthy enough to beat them.  A key player on the Dallas defense should be run stuffer and emotional defensive leader, ILB Keith Brooking. The 13-year veteran is fighting mad after he registered one solo tackle in the Cowboys’ playoff loss and he also thinks that the Vikings ran the score up in the that game.   The Vikings will also look to attack a Dallas secondary that, outside of veteran CB Terrence Newman, has looked vulnerable at times.

LV’s Pick:  This is a tough game to pick, because these two teams’ backs are against the wall and they also are evenly matched — All-Time Regular Season record is tied at 10-10. This game is almost a pick’em as Minnesota is favored by only a point and a half.  I expect the Cowboys to try to get some pressure on Favre, but they will need to watch Peterson first.  If Peterson gets going, expect play-action from Favre down the field to Moss and Harvin.  Conversely the Cowboys will have to deal with extremely loud crowd noise and fix a shaky O-line to come away with the victory.  As always watch for turnovers — both passers have more than 5 INTs so far this season — and big plays on special teams from both sides.   In making my pick, I believe that the Vikings have too many advantages going in their favornot to win this game (home field, noise, Peterson, a very good D-line going against the Cowboys bad O-line and much more).  Also the Vikings have won 5 of the last 6 regular season games against the Cowboys.  Expect some high scoring as Moss and Austin put on a show  – Vikings 31, Cowboys 24

2010 NFL Week 6 Games

Sunday, October 17 

ATL @ PHI, Lincoln Financial Field, 1:00 PM ET —- FOX          

CLE @ PIT, Heinz Field, 1:00 PM ET —- CBS           

SEA @ CHI, Soldier Field, 1:00 PM ET —- FOX          

DET @ NYG, New Meadowlands Stadium, 1:00 PM ET —- FOX          

BAL @ NE, Gillette Stadium, 1:00 PM ET —- CBS          

SD @ STL, Edward Jones Dome, 1:00 PM ET —- CBS          

MIA @ GB, Lambeau Field, 1:00 PM ET —- CBS          

NO @ TB, Raymond James Stadium, 1:00 PM ET —- FOX          

KC @ HOU, Reliant Stadium, 1:00 PM ET —- CBS          

NYJ @ DEN, Invesco Field at Mile High, 4:05 PM ET —- CBS          

OAK @ SF, Candlestick Park, 4:05 PM ET —- CBS          

DAL @ MIN, Mall of America Field, 4:15 PM ET —- FOX          

IND @ WAS, FedEx Field, 8:20 PM ET —- NBC          

Monday, October 18 

TEN @ JAC, Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, 8:30 PM ET —- ESPN          

Byes: Cardinals, Bills, Panthers, Bengals

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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The Redskins Win in McNabb’s Return to Philly by Lloyd Vance

Redskins QB Donovan McNabb received the game-ball for his triumphant return to Philadelphia that produced a 17-12 win for the ‘Skins

It wasn’t Picasso, but it was the best of both worlds for Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb in his Philadelphia homecoming.  The game started with the Philadelphia faithful saluting their former hero when he was announced — ironically he was loudly “booed” when he took the field under center — then like he had done 11 years prior, McNabb found a way to win.

The Redskins (2-2) took home a big 17-12 win over the Eagles (2-2) to take sole possesion of first place in the NFC East.  McNabb’s numbers showed that he did not have one of his best games statistically (8-19, 125 yards, 1 TD, and 1INT plus 39 rushing yards).  But it was his intangibles of leadership and moving the sticks when needed that mattered most.

When the game was on the line, Big 5 converted a crucial first down by scampering for 18 yards on a 3rd and 4 play to help wind the clock.  The win had to be glorifying for McNabb, but after the game he really was focused more on a team win and the Redskins next opponent, rather than passing out “I told you so” comments.

The Redskins knew they could run the ball on the Eagles smallish defensive front and they were successful as they produced 169 yards rushing.  Leading the way was Ryan Torain with 70 yards and a bruising 12-yard touchdown run, where he trucked Eagles safety Quintin Mikell and veteran Clinton Portis who added 55 rushing yards before leaving with a groin injury.

An unfortunate part of the Eagles-Redskins games was that a highly anticipated McNabb-Vick showdown turned into the McNabb-Kolb after Vick left the game in the first quarter with a rib/chest injury — hurt on a 23-yard run that was called back on a Max Jean-Giles penalty.  As for Kolb, he seem rather “tentative in my opinion as he went for checkdowns several times rather than throwing the ball downfield.

An odd play that showed the Eagles glaring weakness with clock managment was at the Redskins’  1-yard line  in the final minute of the first half. After Head Coach Andy Reid called a timeout, his offense still got called for delay of game on a crucial 4th down.  To the dismay of the Eagles’ sellout crowd, the Birds settled for a David Akers  23-yarder to cut the score to 17-6.

Reid tried to explain the strange series of events after the game by saying, “We had a play called. I wasn’t surprised the clock was moving, but I was surprised it was moving as quick as when it was started with the spot”.

However the game was not over until the very last play when Kolb threw a “Hail Mary” pass into the Eagles endzone that bounced out of receiver Jason Avant’s hands and was intercepted by DeAngelo Hall. 

McNabb said after the game, “It’s about winning ballgames, and that’s one that I take pride in.”

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

To Boo or Not for McNabb’s Return by Lloyd Vance

NFL nation is waiting to see how former Eagles and current Redskins QB Donovan McNabb will be received by Philadelphia fans this Sunday

Ever since the 2010 NFL Schedule came out on April 20th, one game stood out more than any other of the National Football League’s 256 regular season games. The Washington Redskins traveling to play their NFC East division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, at 4:00 PM EST on Sunday October 3rd on FOX

The game will mark the first post-trade return of former franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb –- who I believe is the most overanalyzed and underappreciated player in Philadelphia Eagles’ history.  The trade sent the 11-year veteran from the Eagles to the Washington Redskins for a 2nd Rd (37) in 2010 and a 3rd or 4th on April 5, 2011.  But you know when the entire NFL universe was circling this game, they weren’t thinking about the trade’s details.  The one thing on everyone’s mind was, “What in the world are Philadelphia Fans going to do to welcome back McNabb?”

For over a decade in Philadelphia, the name “Donovan McNabb” was a lightning rod for both passion and scorn.  It all started that fateful April Saturday afternoon in 1999 when 30 knucklehead Eagles fans got lathered up and traveled to New York City to “boo” McNabb at the 1999 NFL Draft.  The group, that included 610 WIP’s morning host Angelo Cataldi, to this day still remains steadfast that the booing was in protest to their rebuilding team not taking Heisman Winner running back Ricky Williams rather than hating on McNabb.  But it doesn’t how the “Great Donovan McNabb” debate began, because it continues on to this day.  And you can bet that this Sunday that the Lincoln Financial Field sold-out crowd of 66,000+ will be bringing gasoline to the debate fire that has raged for over 11 years.

So far professionalism has been shown by both the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.  Players and Coaches on both sides have “Downplayed” any Donovan Talk by saying that they are just focusing on the game. 

Some quotes attributed to McNabb this week when talking about his return to Philadelphia include:

“Honestly, I think I will be more cheered.  No matter what the situation is, right now I’m with a different team and it’s a rival and it wasn’t my choice. We had a successful 11 years. We had a lot of exciting plays and obviously some down times, but there were more exciting things in 11 years.”

“I’ve always said that I look at it just like a normal game.  This is a game the Washington Redskins need. It wouldn’t matter if it were the Cowboys or the Giants. After the last two weeks, this is a must-win situation for us. We just look forward to the challenge.”

“We had a lot of success together.  Obviously, we’ve been through some ups and downs together. Things happen. It’s unfortunate. Was I upset at the time? Absolutely. But I’ve moved on. I learned to move on and focus on the job at hand.”

“But in reality you’ve got to remember this is a big rivalry and we see each other twice a year so there will be some realization there,” McNabb said. “Hopefully after the fact they recognize that I’m back. Just knowing that I’m with the Redskins, I’m sure (Eagles fans) won’t be happy about that aspect.”

“This is the business we’re in,” Eagles head coach Andy Reid recently said of McNabb returning.  He added, “Fortunately, [the trade] didn’t destroy our friendship. It’s part of the business. He understands. I understand. I’m sure neither one of us wanted it to come to that day. But that’s how it works. That’s how this thing works. It was a tough decision on my part.”

C’mon guys…give us a little something to work with here.  Where is the “R” word in all of this?  I am talking about “revenge”.  Luckily the people not participating in the game, the fans, are much more interesting to talk about.  Both sides of fans in what I like to call, the “Donovan Divide”, have arguments fueled by passion that only Philadelphia can bring to table.

Some pro-McNabb comments from I what would say is a quiet majority of supporters in the Eagles fanbase have included:  “McNabb is the best quarterback the Eagles have ever had”; “Andy Reid never surrounded McNabb with enough weapons”; “McNabb played on a broken leg and won against the Cardinals”; “McNabb would have been fine if the Eagles had kept T.O”. And there are probably much more supportive words from Pro-McNabb fans, but they tend to stay off talk radio and message boards.

However the very vocal minority of Birds’ fans that are ardent McNabb detractors are more than willing to express themselves.  You can expect these ‘Boo Birds’ to be ready on Sunday as they were more than giddy on Easter Sunday when Big 5 packed up his air guitar and left the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ for DC. Wonder if any of these comments sound familiar.  “McNabb throws worm balls”; “The National Media has no idea, just how bad McNabb really is”; “McNabb is inaccurate causing him to not hit receivers in stride”; “McNabb’s parents are too involved in his life”; “McNabb has lost 4 NFC Championship Games, two of which were at home and three  where the Eagles were favored”; “McNabb smiles after interceptions”; “McNabb never scrambles anymore because he doesn’t want to be labeled a running quarterback”; “McNabb cannot win big games”; “McNabb should change his name to McChoke”; “McNabb caused the Birds to lose the last game at the Vet”; “McNabb is too injury prone” and “McNabb blew-it in the Super Bowl against the Patriots”. 

However love him or hate him…I believe McNabb deserves a warm welcome on Sunday befitting his hard-nose play and legacy in Philadelphia.  During the McNabb era there were the heights of 6 Pro Bowl selections, 5 NFC Title Games and a Super Bowl appearance in the 2004 season.  And there also were the depths of coming back from an ACL injury in 2006 and defending his play in four NFC Championship Game losses.  But fans should try and remember the good times more than the non-Championships.  McNabb holds almost every franchise passing record and Philly fans should ask themselves, “Would they boo Ron Jaworski, Curt Schilling, Ron Hextall, or Charles Barkley?”  All of these athletes, like McNabb, were all-star caliber players who shined but eventually passed through Philadelphia without attaining the city’s elusive championship.  Thankfully the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies ended the city’s 25-year drought by winning the World Series and hopefully softening Philadelphia fans a little.

We all know that a championship is the ultimate prize in sports.  But “Winning” is the first step, puts butts in the seats, and keeps fans coming back for more.  And that is what Donovan McNabb is, a “Winner”!  Yes…McNabb, head coach Andy Reid and the Eagles’ organization as a whole did not bring home a Super Bowl Championship in 11 years. Plus McNabb’s last game as an Eagles player in a 38-14 wildcard playoff round loss to the Cowboys is still fresh in some “Haters” minds — numbers of 19/37, 230 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT and 1 lost fumble. 

But you cannot forget McNabb’s value to the Eagles franchise both on the field and in the community — does all the rights things when other athletes are being toasted despite their past shortcomings off the field.  Big 5 put it on the line each and every game that he played for the Philadelphia Eagles.  He battled through injuries and criticism to put up the best quarterback resume in the Eagles’ over 75-year history.  And to me, his resume is moving toward Pro Football Hall of Fame status too. 

In eleven exciting years in Philadelphia, which is more than any fan can ask for, McNabb was a leader as he passed for numbers of  2801-4746, 59.0% completion rate, 32,873 yards, 216 TDs, and 100 INTs – NFL record for touchdown-to-interception ratio — with an additional 3249 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing.  But it is his Eagles’ starting records of 92-49-1 in the regular season and 9-7 in the playoffs that have to move fans to give the man, the respect that he deserves.

I am expecting a half-hearted welcome for McNabb on Sunday which definitely will include some boos.  If there is booing, unfortunately Philly will once again be painted with the over-used phrase, “The city that threw snowballs at Santa Claus”.  In the end no one has a right to tell money-paying fans how to react to any player as long as they don’t break any rules.  BTW: I am cautioning fans to enjoy themselves, but don’t do anything too crazy like burning McNabb jerseys or hanging Eagles No. 5 clad dummies in effigy.

As someone that has followed the fortunes of  the Philadelphia Eagles for over 30 years.  And in particular Donovan McNabb since his early days at Syracuse, I am not even going to lie and say that I won’t be quietly pulling for McNabb to play well in his return. 

Hopefully the excitement of McNabb’s return will dissipate quickly and everyone can move on to focusing on the Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) versus the Washington Redskins (1-2) in a crucial NFC East match-up. 

So as Andy Reid says in every press conference, “The time is yours” and this time I am directing it at Eagles fans as we see how they react to Donovan McNabb returning.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Season Week 3 – Parity Still Reigns

September 27, 2010 1 comment

The St. Louis Rams upset win over the heavily favored Washington Redskins shows that the NFL is still full of surprises and parity

I know there are still 14 more weeks of NFL play…But is it just me or does everyone else feel like every NFL team has a record of 2-1 or 1-2 after almost three weeks of league play? 

Way back during the tenure of influential former NFL Commissioner Bert Bell, a man who was one of the league’s key caretakers, coined the phrase, “On Any Given Sunday”.  In Bell’s dream theory for league play, equitability was extremely high and “competition was key”.  The former league head, who for many years ran the organization from his home in Narberth, Pennsylvania, wanted a league where any team — whether top or bottom — could beat another on a weekly basis. 

Well somewhere Bell is smiling!  The NFL after three wacky weeks of play only has four unbeaten teams remaining including some teams no thought would be at the top. Now only the surprise Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) and Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0), who both unexpectedly have remained unblemished.  Along with the Chicago Bears (2-0) and Green Packers (2-0) who square-off in a Monday Night Football “Somebody’s Zero, Got to Go” game tomorrow night in the Windy City. 

I ask, “Where have the NFL’s beloved/hated dynasty bully teams gone?”  Think of Paul Brown’s Cleveland Browns of the ‘50s, Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers of the ‘60s, Chuck Knoll’s Pittsburgh Steelers of the ‘70s, Bill Walsh’s San Francisco 49ers of the ‘80s, Jerry Jones’ Dallas Cowboys of the ‘90s, and Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots of the ‘00s. 

Hard to believe during the 2009 NFL Season, the 1972 Miami Dolphins – who currently live as the NFL’s only undefeated Super Bowl Champion — were left wondering if not one but two teams might catch them.  It all seems like a mirage as both the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts went 13-0 to start last season.   So far in the 2010 NFL season, the National Football League’s current landscape is filled with “parity”. Teams can no longer just mail-it-in as shown by the formerly winless St. Louis Rams’ unexpected 30-16 victory over the heavily favored Washing Redskins in a Week 3 “Trap Game”

With the aforementioned battle between the unbeaten Bears and Packers yet to be played in Week 3, league standing show that there are two (3-0) teams, fourteen (2-1) teams, nine (1-2) teams, and five lowly (0-3) teams.  The whole parity laden league – or mess as some analysts are saying — has left several NFL fans and media scratching their collective heads when looking at current division leaders. 

You have to start with the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs, who dominated the equally surprising – for the wrong reasons – Niners by a score of 31-10 at renovated Arrowhead Stadium.  It was a battle of two teams headed in the wrong direction.  The Chiefs now hold a two-game lead over the Chargers and could be the NFL’s Cinderella story of 2010.  While you have to wonder if the Niners, who face the “red hot” NFC South leading Atlanta Falcons (2-1) in Week 4, might be looking to replace embattled head coach Mike Singletary after an 0-3 start in a season where his team had very high expectations.

The AFC South has the Houston Texans (2-1) leading by a tiebreaker over the Colts, but that maybe changing soon.  The Texan showed that they were not quite just ready for the “Prime Time” as the desperate Cowboys thumped them 27-13 in Houston while machine like Colts (2-1) easily rolled over the Denver Broncos (1-2) by an identical point difference of 27-13. 

The AFC North is looking like the NFL’s best division with the Steelers, Baltimore Ravens (2-1), and Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) all bunched near the top.  To the surprise of experts –including yours truly – it is the Steelers who are currently undefeated even though their starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is serving a 4-game suspension.  Fueled by veteran quarterback Charlie Batch’s three touchdown passes, the Steelers annihilated the formerly undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 38-13 in Tampa.  Now everything will point to a Week 4 battle between the Ravens and Steelers.

The AFC East also looks like a 3 team race for the top as the NY Jets (2-1), Miami Dolphins (2-1) and New England Patriots (2-1) have the same record.  But a recent two –week streak that included wins over the Patriots and Dolphins has left the “brash” NY Jets sitting on top.  To the delight of head coach Rex Ryan, the King of Hard Knocks, the J-E-T-S took care of business by beating the Dolphins 31-23 on NBC Sunday Night Football in Miami. It was a triumphant homecoming for former Dolphins star and current Jets’ DE/OLB Jason Taylor who had produced 1 sack and 1 tackle in the win.

Switching to the NFC side of the league, there could an 8-8 division winner in the NFC West, which easily is the NFL’s worst division.  Even the Niners at a record of 0-3 still have a chance in their division race.  The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks are currently at the top with a (2-1) record, but both teams are very beatable.  The Cardinals benefited from a rear short field goal miss by Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski to win 24-23 and stay tied with the Seahawks, who surprised the San Diego Chargers 27-20 in Seattle.  This week’s version of Monday Night Football will settle the NFC North picture as the Packers and Bears meet for the 179th time with Chicago being the host city for this tilt. 

The Packers seem to have hit their stride led by QB Aaron Rodgers, but the Bears are hungry as head coach Lovie Smith’s job is on the line this season.  But both teams still need to be weary of the Minnesota Vikings (1-2), who behind some great running by RB Adrian Peterson (160 rushing yards and 2 TDs), finally hit their stride in a much-needed 24-10 win over the struggling Detroit Lions (0-3). And did I mention Favre and his boys will have a Week 4 bye to get healthy.

The NFC South could have witnessed the changing of the guard as the Atlanta Falcons surprised the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints by a score of 27-24 in overtime.  We will see if the Falcons (2-1) and their emerging quarterback Matt Ryan can continue staying at the top of the division.  But I think the Saints (2-1) are learning how hard it is to be the hunted, especially without playmaking running back Reggie Bush who is hurt with a broken fibula. 

The last division race is probably the most surprising as the NFC East leading Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) may found their catalyst in quarterback Michael Vick – has gone from Public Enemy No. 1 to the leading candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year.  The former 3-time Pro Bowl player in his first game as the Birds anointed starter passed for 291 yards and 3 TDs in a dominating 28-3 win over the reeling Jacksonville Jaguars. 

The real fun will come next week when Vick and rising Eagles host former Philadelphia and current Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb.  However the Skins and Eagles can’t get too comfortable as the Cowboys (1-2) are still lurking and they should get even better after a Week 4 bye.

The unexpected surprises of the undefeated Kansas Chiefs and the Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers plus the revival of the Michael Vick Experience so far show that nothing is a given in the NFL. 

And “Yes”… “Any Given Sunday” still reigns supreme in the NFL.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

My View from the Washington Redskins Press Box by Lake Lewis

Optimism is all that any Washington Redskins’ fan can ever hope for after a horrid 2009 football campaign. Last season contained former Redskins head coach Jim Zorn — now Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach — routinely questioned by fans and the media for his coaching tactics.  Former starting quarterback Jason Campbell’s leadership was questioned and many debated if he even was a legitimate playoff caliber signal caller.  And lastly, the ‘Skins defense was often criticized for not playing in a free-flowing attacking style. 

Well, the 2010 season has brought eternal hope for all around our Nation’s Capital.  And if last night’s Redskins preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills was any indicator, then the new season should bring a sort of giddiness seldom bestowed on this franchise over the last decade. The Redskins came out and imposed their will on the Buffalo Bills in route to a 42-17 alley-slapping.

In the Redskins’ preseason opening win, the three most important off-season acquisitions, in my opinion, of Head Coach Mike Shanahan, Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and Quarterback Donovan McNabb did not disappoint in their burgundy and gold debuts – BTW: I didn’t count General Manager Bruce Allen as he joined the team at the end of the 2009 season. 

After a shaky first series, the Redskins’ offense -– 2009 NFL rankings of 22nd in total offense and 26th in scoring — showed signs of life.  On their second possession, the new look offense led by McNabb orchestrated a twelve play, 70-yard, drive culminating with the former All-Pro passer connecting with first-year player Anthony Armstrong on a four-yard touchdown strike.  The touchdown pass showed that finally the Redskins seem to have the most important position on the field covered. 

McNabb’s improvisation skills were on full display on the touchdown play as he showed foot movement and presence in the pocket.  The former Philadelphia Eagles starter kept the play alive by moving around to find his receiver despite some pressure from the Bills.  Overall, McNabb who took the snap from center 17 times — was scheduled to take only 18 snaps actually — completed five of eight passes for 58 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. The former 6-time Pro Bowl player also turned in a more than respectable 124.0 quarterback rating for the game.

In his postgame presser, McNabb said that he felt good after having played his first game with the Redskins.  The new leader of Washington’s offense said, “It was an exciting time.  When you play your first game, obviously, with a new ball club it takes you back to the first game you played.”  The 12-year veteran added, “Your adrenaline is high and you have to settle down a little bit.  The second time we went out, after our first drive, it led us putting up some points.  Then good things happen.  There are a lot of things we have to work on but I thought offensively we were able to progress today.”

The strong performance of the Redskins did not stop at McNabb’s doorstep.  Back-up quarterback Rex Grossman, a former Super Bowl lead guy in Chicago, may have helped ease any discord about who will replace #5 should he have any kind of setback.  Grossman showed complete command of the Kyle Shanahan’s offense, which he was already familiar with from having been coached by the younger Shanahan last year with the Houston Texans.  For the game, Grossman played two quarters while completing eleven passes for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns. The former Florida Gators passer also finished with a great quarterback rating too (122.5).

One of the recipients of Grossman’s two touchdown passes was gifted receiver Devin Thomas.  The former Michigan State receiver had recently been under intense scrutiny for his participation in a music video with R&B star Fantasia.  But he rebounded to have a nice game as he pulled-in three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.  Some people, who I talked to during the game, thought that Thomas should be bypassing any outside distractions and just focusing on football. 

However Thomas showed why he was a top-rated receiver prospect on many boards back during the 2008 draft.  Yesterday’s game could be the confidence booster for Shanahan’s offense and the third-year pro that the Redskins have been looking for.  After briefly talking to Thomas after the game, I can safely say there is not a more engaging player who knows exactly what is expected of him in the locker room.  I truly expect a breakout year for the developing receiver and for Thomas to also be the starter opposite veteran Santana Moss come opening day.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were some things from the game that I believe need to be corrected including over-pursuit and poor tackling.  But for the most part, new defensive coordinator Jim Hasslet’s unit showed the attacking style that most Washington fans have longed for since the departure of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is now with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.  The other major off-season drama, the Albert Haynesworth situation, also definitely seems to have been put to bed.  The $100-million dollar man started his long climb back up the depth charts and ‘Skins Nation’s hearts by playing a solid game.  Haynesworth entered the game in the second quarter, with the second unit, and although he did not record a sack or a tackle, his presence helped several players.

Redskins Game Notes:

First-year players who made an impact on the game were:

— LB Perry Riley who played well and was credited with a tackle for a loss.

— WR Anthony Armstrong caught his and Donovan McNabb’s first touchdown as Redskins.

— RB Keiland Williams showed that he could possibly breakthrough an already crowded backfield to make the final roster.

— CB Ramzee Robinson made several special teams gems.  And as always this is what separates young players who make NFL rosters.

— WR Brandon Banks showed the 4.2 speed that has caught the eye of many around the NFL.  Banks did not waste any time as he returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown.  His effort should help add greater debate about getting the young speedster more opportunities.

— RB Ryan Torain was impressive with 17 rushes for 62 yards.

— Former Pro Bowl TE Chris Cooley looked comfortable working with McNabb as he produced 3 catches for 33 yards.

— CB DeAngelo Hall had a nice interception, which he returned for 33 yards.

 

Lake Lewis is the head of the Sports Journey Broadcast Network and their daily drive-time radio host.  He also is a credentialed member of the media by the NBA, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens.

Donovan McNabb’s Washington Debut is a Success by Lloyd Vance

Redskins QB Donovan McNabb had a strong performance in his Washington debut against the Buffalo Bills

After only having one preseason game last week, the NFL exploded this week with a slate of 16 early season battles.  One the most anticipated storylines of the 2010 NFL Preseason Week 1 was the debut of 12-year veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb with the Washington Redskins.

The former Eagles starter for 11 years had been performing in training camp to some mixed reviews.  But as usual “Game Time” meant that the former 6-time Pro Bowl passer was all business.  McNabb gave the Redskins’ faithful something to cheer about as he led Washington to a dominating 42-17 home victory over the hapless Buffalo Bills.

After a couple of errant throws in his first series, the notoriously slow starting McNabb picked-it-up.  Big 5 started to look comfortable in his new surroundings on Washington’s second offensive series.  And finished with respectable numbers 5 for 8 for 58 passing yards and one rushing yard in two series of work.  His biggest play was a 4-yard touchdown to WR Anthony Armstrong. 

McNabb said after the lopsided win, “When you play your first game, obviously, with a new ballclub, it takes you back to the first game you played.”  The dual-threat passer added, “Your adrenaline is high, and you have to settle down a little bit. The second time we went out, after our first drive, it led to us putting up some points.”

Next up McNabb and the Redskins will face the Baltimore Ravens on August 21 in a territorial bragging rights game.  But you know the 33-year old passer is using every game until October 3rd (vs. the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field) as a warm-up.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Pre-Training Camp Top Stories – Old Faces in New Places by Lloyd Vance

There was a lot of movement this offseason including some high profile players.  Probably the biggest name to switch teams was QB Donovan McNabb going to D.C after 11 years with the Philadelphia Eagles

Every year around the NFL there is one guarantee, “Change”.  Whether it is players, assistant coaches, head coaches, or front-office types every NFL team’s roster is constantly changing like an ameba.  Fans and media often wonder why teams need so many offseason workouts (OTAs, passing camps, etc). Well… the reason for the increased number of workouts in the offseason is that teams need as much “getting to know you” opportunities as possible to meld so many new faces together in a short period of time.  Training camps just are not long enough anymore to get so many new faces on the same page in order to be “competitive” for the upcoming season. 

Typically teams have 15 or more new players each season due to retirements, cuts, the draft, and free agency – this year the Washington Redskins lead the way with 20+ new faces including a new general manager (Bruce Allen), head coach Mike Shanahan, and quarterback (Donovan McNabb). Surprisingly after there were 11 new head coaches in 2009, there are only three new head coaches – four if you include Oakland Raiders taking away Tom Cable’s “interim” HC label — for the 2010 NFL Season (Buffalo Bills Chan Gailey, Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll and Shanahan).

Some bigger names in new places for 2010 are:

Washington Redskins QB Donovan McNabb – The 11-year veteran was traded from the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2nd Rd (37) in 2010 and a 3rd or 4th in 2011. McNabb will be heading down I-95 to help revive the 4-12 Redskins while their division rivals will now turn to Kevin Kolb to be their starter.

Miami Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall – The volatile, but talented pass catcher was traded by the Denver Broncos for 2nd rounders in 2010 and 2011.  Marshall also was extended by Miami with the terms four-years, $47.5 million dollars with $24M Guaranteed.  It will be interesting to see if the former Broncos perennial 100-catch receiver is fully recovered from off-season hip surgery once training camp starts.

New York Jets WR Santonio Holmes – After being a major P.I.T.A during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Rooney’s had seen enough.  In a total surprise, the Steelers sent their former Super Bowl hero to the NY Jets for a measly 5th round pick in 2010.  Even though Holmes will have to serve a 4-game suspension to start the 2010 season, the NY Jets are confident that Braylon Edwards, TE Dustin Keller, and he can form a solid receiving corps for young passer Mark Sanchez.

Chicago Bears DE Julius Peppers – The high-motor sack artist and easily 2010’s Free Agency “Big Fish” was signed by the Bears from Carolina Panthers (six-years, $91.5 million dollar contract with 30M guaranteed).  After signing Peppers, the Bears released former starter Alex Brown (signed w/ New Orleans Saints).  Chicago is hoping that Peppers is motivated enough to eclipse his 2009 sack total of 10 1/2.

Seattle Seahawks QB Charlie Whitehurst — This former unproven backup was traded by the San Diego Chargers to Seattle.  The two teams swapped second-round picks in 2010 and the Seahawks will send a future 3rd RD pick to the Chargers.  Seattle then extended Whitehurst with the terms $8M over two years, with another $2M available in incentives.

Chicago Bears RB Chester Taylor – After spending the last couple years as an under-utilized backup to Pro Bowl RB Adrian Peterson, Taylor will be a chance for more carries with the Bears.  The Viking unrestricted free agent signed a four-year, $12.5 million dollar contract that contains $7 million in guarantees in the first year.  Look for Taylor and 3rd-year back Matt Forte to form a lethal combination backfield like the Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. 

Arizona Cardinals OG Alan Faneca – After the NY Jets decided that this former Pro Bowl player wasn’t needed after drafting some younger players.  Former Steelers coaches Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm were more than happy to sign Faneca to help young running back Chris “Beanie” Wells. The 33-year old road grader was signed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal, which included a $300,000 signing bonus and a $100,000 workout bonus.

Arizona Cardinals S Kerry Rhodes – The NY Jets kicked Rhodes out of Rex Ryan’s doghouse by trading him for a 4th in ’10 and a 7th in ’11.  The Cardinals were excited to have him to team with Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson as shown by Rhodes’ five-year, $33.5 million extension.

Atlanta Falcons CB Dunta Robinson – Former first round pick was signed from the Houston Texans as an unrestricted free agent (six-year, $57 million dollars, w/ $25.5 million dollars in guarantees).  The Falcons are expecting Robinson to play close to NY Jets Pro Bowler Darrelle Revis, who always shadows his opponent’s best receiver.

Baltimore Ravens WR Anquan Boldin – The former multiple-time Pro Bowl receiver was traded along with a 5th Rd selection by the Arizona Cardinals for 3rd and 4th-round picks in the 2010 NFL Draft.

NY Jets RB LaDainian Tomlinson – Signed from the San Diego Chargers after being cut (two-years, $5.2 million contract w/ another $500,000 is available via incentives)

Kansas City Chiefs RB Thomas Jones – After surprisingly being cut, the Chiefs signed the former NY Jets leading rusher with the terms two-years, $5.5M — $3 million dollars this season, $2M in 2011, and has $500,000 incentives)

Other high profile off-season moves:

NY Jets CB Antonio Cromartie (Traded by the Chargers for a 2011 3rd RD pick)

Cleveland Browns Football Czar Mike Holmgren (former Seattle GM/Head Coach and Super Bowl winner with the Packers)

Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan (former Super Bowl-winning head coach for the Denver Broncos)

Detroit Lions OG Rob Sims (Traded from Seattle – 5th Rd in 2010)

Detroit Lions TE Tony Scheffler (Traded by Denver along w/ a seventh-round pick for a 5th Rd in 2010)

Jacksonville Jaguars DE Aaron Kampman (Packers – FA, four-year, $24 million w/ $11 million in the first year)

Baltimore Ravens WR Donte Stallworth (Signed after the Cleveland Browns cut him)

Miami Dolphins LB Karlos Dansby (Cardinals – FA, 5-year, $43 million w/ $22M guaranteed)

Chicago Bears OC Mike Martz (after one year in studio, the “Mad Scientist” returns with a new team and trigger-happy quarterback in Jay Cutler)

Denver Broncos QB Brady Quinn (traded from the Browns to provide competition for Kyle Orton, but Tebow is in the wings)

New England Patriots WR Torry Holt (long-time Rams Pro Bowl receiver left the Jags for New England, 1-yr, $1.7M)

New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown (Bears – FA, two-year for $6M)

NY Giants DB Antrel Rolle (Cardinals – FA, 5-year, $37 million with $15 million guaranteed)

NY Jets safety Brodney Pool (Browns – FA, one-year, $1.3 million dollar contract)

NY Jets DE/OLB Jason Taylor (former Dolphins leading sacker)

Oakland Raiders DE/OLB Kamerion Wimbley (Traded from the Cleveland Browns for a 3rd RD in 2010)

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antwaan Randle El (Redskins – cut)

Cincinnati Bengals WR Matt Jones (Signed Street F\A — JAX)

Cincinnati Bengals CB Adam “Pacman” Jones (Cowboys – FA, 2-year deal)

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Larry Foote (Lions — 3-year, $9.3 million w/ $1.8M signing bonus)

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Byron Leftwich (Traded by the Bucs – 7th Rd pick in 2010)

Arizona Cardinals OLB Joey Porter (Signed after being cut by the Dolphins)

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Bryant McFadden (Traded by the Cardinals)

SF 49ers WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr (Traded by the Dolphins for a 5th Rd in 2010)

Seattle Seahawks WR Mike Williams (Signed as a F\A – Last players for Titans in 2007)

Tennessee Titans LB Will Witherspoon (Eagles – FA, three-year, $11M w/ $5M guaranteed)

Washington Redskins OT Jammal Brown (Traded from the Saints)

Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow (I know this former Heisman winner is a rookie, but he already was a houehold name after being college football’s Superman for 4 years)

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)