Eagles the big winners in the 2012 NFL Draft

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nfldraft2012_logo_medium.jpgEven in the offseason, the NFL still has winners and losers. As the NFL Draft came to a close on Saturday it came time to determine who had the best draft. That team turned out to be the Philadelphia Eagles, who drafted a quality player and filling major needs with each pick. The Eagles started off trading down in the first round from fifteenth to twelfth to select defensive tackle Fletcher Cox out of Mississippi State, who ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper ranked as the best defensive lineman in the draft. Cox will make an immediate

 

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impact on the Eagles' defensive line, helping plug up the hole in the middle where opposing running backs hurt them all last season. In the second round they solidified their linebacking position, drafting Mychal Kendricks out of California. Playing alongside recently added DeMeco Ryans, Kendricks gives them the talent they've been looking for at linebacker also helping a run defense that ranked sixteenth last season. The third pick also came in the second round and was defensive end Vinny Curry out of Marshall. The addition of Curry will make their already great pass rush even better.

AP120426020893--nfl_mezz_1280_1024.jpgIt wouldn't be an Andy Reid led draft without the Eagles drafting a quarterback and that's just what they did in the third round, picking Nick Foles out of Arizona. Though he won't be filling a big need, Foles has the potential to one day develop into a starting QB when current QB Mike Vick leaves. The Eagles' fifth pick was cornerback Brandon Boykin out of Georgia. Boykin has the potential of being one of the biggest steals of the draft, with the talent to match up with some of the best receivers in the league while filling the hole left by recently traded CB Asante Samuel. With their sixth pick they filled a major hole left by the injury to Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jason Peters, drafting OT Dennis Kelly out of Purdue in round five.

                                                                                            Eagles' first round pick: Fletcher Cox

Another possible steal came in the sixth round with their selection of wide receiver Marvin McNutt out of Iowa. McNutt was the star receiver at Iowa, currently holding several school records and giving the Eagles another offensive weapon. The Eagles used their last two picks of the draft on offense as well, drafting offensive guard Brandon Washington out of Miami and running back Bryce Brown out of Kansas State. Washington has the ability to outplay his draft stock while Brown gives RB LeSean McCoy help in the back field.

Overall the Eagles did exactly what they needed to do. They went in needing to improve on their defense which was their down fall last season. With their first two picks they drastically improved the defense and throughout the rest of the draft they made a great offense better, setting the team up for a bright future. The Eagles are now contenders once again and can truly be the "dream team" they promised to be last season.

Which team do you think had the best draft?

ESPN Draft Expert Todd McShay picks his draft winners

A Bounty of Problems for the Saints

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SaintsHelmet.jpg                                                                                                                   New Orleans Saints    

 

The New Orleans Saints will be without Head Coach Sean Payton the entire 2012 NFL season after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension after the Saints appealed on April 9. Early last month the news broke on ESPN that former Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams set up a bounty system where players were paid to injure opposing players. The Saints' bounty system's purpose was offering cash bonuses for big hits that knocked targeted opponents out of games or hurt them enough that they required help getting to the sideline.

Along with Payton, others were punished for their knowledge of the bounty system. Others suspended are General Manager Mickey Loomis for eight games, Assistant Coach Joe Vitt for six games and Williams, who is banned indefinitely. Goodell's punishments didn't end with the suspensions, The Saints also won't have second-round picks for the next two drafts and will have to pay the $500,000 fine. Player suspensions and fines could also be coming soon, league officials have said punishment will be harsh, largely because players were the ones who primarily funded the bounty system.

Payton's season-long suspension without pay for the 2012 NFL season will begin April 16. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told NFL Network's Albert Breer that Payton "cannot be involved in any coaching activities, he can't be at the facility, or with the team at games."

Even with all these suspensions and fines the Saints should still do well this season because they still have Drew Brees. With the leadership of Brees and other veteran players, the Saints will continue to have their great offense. They definitely will have problems on defense, with the possibility of Jonathan Vilma, their leader on defense, being suspended, but they have done a great job at finding a temporary replacement. They recently signed linebacker Curtis Lofton, who started for the Atlanta Falcons the past four seasons. Lofton is just as good, if not better than Vilma and if he can step up and be a leader, the Saints defense can thrive. I'm not saying they will win the Super Bowl, which happens to be in New Orleans this season, but they will definitely be a playoff team.

How do you think the Saints will do this season and do you think the punishment is fair?

NFL Network Analyst Rich Eisen speaks with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Tebow Jetting to New York

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                                                                                                New York Jets QB Tim Tebow

"Tebowmania" is coming to New York. On March 21, SportsCenter broke the news that the New York Jets and Denver Broncos made it official and sent Tim Tebow to the Jets for a fourth and sixth round pick in April's NFL Draft. Tebow was in total control of the trade with the Broncos giving him the choice of where he would like to be traded. His choice came down to the Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars and made the surprising choice of the Jets.

This trade can either be really great or really bad for the Jets. Right now it's not a good trade. They just gave a quarterback with confidence problems more to worry about and a divided locker room more problems. These problems can get even worse when the season starts. The second Mark Sanchez struggles the fans are going to do the same thing Broncos fans did, which is start badgering the team to put Tebow in, causing more locker room QB problems. Then if they decide to start Tebow and he struggles, this trade could cost Head Coach Rex Ryan and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum their jobs with them still needing to figure out what to do with Sanchez and Tebow. What a mess this could cause.

On the other side, this trade could be great. If Sanchez plays well and they can put a different spin on the wildcat offense, the Jets can easily be the top scoring team in the league. A Tebow-led wildcat offense will be a great change-of-pace attack that keeps the offense from stalling and defenses on their heels. Combining that offense with their already great defense, they are definitely a playoff team and will battle the Broncos to get to the Super Bowl, thickening the story even more. When it comes to the locker room, winning fixes everything and if this trade is successful, drama for the Jets will be a thing of the past.   

This trade will either be historically great or historically bad. It will certainly be interesting to see how it all plays out. I know it's definitely one of the stories I'll be watching this season. As Tebow said 45 times during his press conference I'm "excited."

What's your take on the trade?

Manning chooses Broncos, leaving Tebow odd man out

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"Tebowmania" has come to an end in Denver. On Monday Peyton Manning made his choice for what team he will play for in the 2012 season and it's the Denver Broncos. His decision came down to either the Broncos or the San Francisco 49ers, with the Tennessee Titans on the outside looking in. His relationship with former Broncos QB and now head of football operations, John Elway, helped lead Manning to his decision. Sources close to Manning said that his head was telling him San Francisco, but his heart said Denver.

 "I realize I don't have 14 years left, by any means," Manning said. "This isn't something where I'm just building a foundation to do something in two years or three years. This is a now situation. We're going to do whatever we can to win right now. That's all I'm thinking about right now." Manning said as he was introduced to the media, Tuesday.

The Broncos signed Manning to a 5-year, $96 million deal, showing how much confidence that he can still play like an all star and in Manning as the leader of their offense.

"He's a guy that raises all boats. He's already made (his teammates) better, and they haven't met him yet just because of the type of person he is, his reputation and what he's done in this league. So, he's just going to have a tremendous effect on the Denver Broncos." Elway said.

Huge fallout from this deal is Denver having to trade Tim Tebow. After one of the most exciting and crazy seasons in Broncos history and becoming a nationwide icon, he will leave Denver and bring "Tebowmania" to another city.

"I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is, what kind of person he is ... and what an awesome year he had this year. If Tim Tebow is here next year, I'm going to be the best teammate I can be to him; he and I are going to help this team win games. If other opportunities present themselves to him, I'm going to wish him the best." Manning said.

Last season, Tebow led the Broncos to a division title and a playoff victory, but along with his success came some failure that made people question whether he should be a starting QB. In his final game as a Bronco he played the worst game of his career as Denver was blown out 45-10. Many people still believe in Tebow and it won't be long before he is back on the field starting for his new team.

"Tim Tebow's a great kid. If I want someone to marry my daughter, it's him," Elway said.

Getting back to Manning, this move definitely makes them a playoff team and division winner. What we don't know is deep into the playoffs he can take them. For me, this makes them the best team in the AFC. Now that they have an elite QB with their great defense they have a perfect balance and will be very tough to beat. The Denver Broncos will represent the AFC in Super Bowl 47.

Photo credit: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7715170/denver-broncos-fans-bittersweet-arrival-peyton-manning-expected-departure-tim-tebow  http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/en_fuego/2012/03/manning-to-broncos-should-mean-tebow-to-dolphins.html

 

Colts cut ties with Manning

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                                                         Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning

After 14 years, the Indianapolis Colts will release all-pro quarterback Peyton Manning. Last season the Colts suffered through a long 2-14 season while rotating between two QBs as Manning recovered from multiple neck surgeries. On Tuesday, the Colts made the tough decision to cut ties with Manning and allow him to sign with any team starting March 13. The Colts are now looking toward the future and using the number one overall pick in the draft on Stanford QB Andrew Luck.  

In 1998, the Colts used the number one overall pick on Manning, beginning the most historic era in franchise history. In his time with the Colts, Manning was selected to 11 Pro Bowls, was a 4 time MVP and had a Super Bowl victory in two appearances. He ends his Colts career as the franchise's all-time leader in all major QB categories.

The teams expected to reach out to Manning are the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. The teams that will make the strongest push will be the Dolphins and Cardinals. Manning has recently said that he will go to the team with the best chance at winning a championship in the next year or two. With that being said, I think his best decision is to join the Cardinals.

Joining the Cardinals gives Manning the best chance at winning a championship in the near future. As we saw when they had Kurt Warner at QB they are a great QB away from a Super Bowl appearance. Now if they can get an elite QB like Manning, there is nothing stopping them from winning a Super Bowl. Giving him an elite receiver in Larry Fitzgerald and an up and coming running back in Beanie Wells, they could become one of the top offenses in the league. Like the Colts, the Cardinals are a dome team to give him a comfortable environment. They even have their 2012 schedule to offer, as they play 10 teams that had eight or fewer wins last season.

The only flaw the Cardinals have is their offensive line, but that can be easily and cheaply fixed in the draft with their pick at number 13. The Cardinals offer him great stadium conditions with a dome, an easy schedule and the best win-now roster. The choice is simple; the Cardinals offer everything he could ever want in a team at the end of his career.

Rams will trade the number 2 overall pick

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st_louis_rams_logo-300x225.jpguntitled.bmpSt. Louis Rams

 

 Where will Robert Griffin III play next season? This is now the burning question on NFL fans' minds. On Monday, the St. Louis Rams revealed that they are willing to trade the number two overall pick in April's draft. The Rams are expected to ask for a number one pick in this year's and next year's draft and two other picks in return. As of now there are three teams interested: the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins.

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With Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn available and not much to offer, the Dolphins will probably drop out of the running. Of the three teams the Browns have the most to offer and the least to lose, since they have two first round picks, but the team most likely to make the trade is the Redskins. They are definitely the most desperate and would benefit the most from Griffin. Last season the Redskins were a mess at quarterback. They rotated between two below average QBs hoping something would work, but it obviously didn't.

With a QB like RG3, the Redskins can be a worst to first team. Griffin would give their offense new life and dimensions they never had before. With his size, athleticism and if he can keep turnovers to a minimum, he could be one of the top passing and rushing QBs. If the Redskins can improve their already decent defense, they will definitely become a contender for the division championship and maybe the Super Bowl a few years down the road. Doing so won't be difficult. Like Michael Vick for the Philadelphia Eagles, RG3 will make players want to come to Washington. With how exciting of a playmaker he can be, other players will feed off that and they will want to be a part of it.

The Redskins have to get Griffin. This is a guy who can be the face of the franchise for years to come, which is something they haven't had in a long time. He has the "it" factor that will make him an instant star. Washington gives RG3 a place to have success, the Redskins the franchise player they always wanted and the fans a new hero in a town that hasn't had one in a long time.

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Robert Griffin III as a Washington Redskin 

 

Luck vs. RG3

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                                         Stanford QB Andrew Luck and Baylor QB Robert Griffin III

As the NFL Combine began on Wednesday, the burning question was who will have the better performance, Stanford QB Andrew Luck or Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. Both are battling to be the number one overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL Draft. We are left to wait and see who has the better throwing drill since both are skipping the Combine throwing drills and waiting till their Pro Days so they can work with a familiar environment and familiar receivers from their own team. However, we did get to see who the better athlete was on Sunday.

Griffin stole the show as he posted the second fastest 40-yard dash in Combine history. He ran a time of 4.41, second all-time to Mike Vick back in 2001. His time was .18 better than last season's NFL Rookie of the Year, QB Cam Newton, who scored an NFL record 12 rushing TDs by a QB. Griffin bested Luck in the 40 by .26 and the vertical jump by three inches, but fell to Luck by four inches in the broad jump. We can now say that Griffin is the better athlete, but that was already assumed going into the Combine. When it comes down to who is a better QB it is all about decision making and reading defenses.

Luck is the better QB because even though he won't have more rushing yards and TDs as Griffin, he will have better stats in the passing categories, which is what really counts. In college, Luck had the better completion percentage and yards per pass attempt while Griffin had the better rushing stats. So we can see that Luck is the better decision maker and is usually very productive with those decisions. It doesn't matter how fast your QB can run it depends on how he can read a defense and find the open receiver leading the team down the field and giving the offense balance. Griffin will have a successful career, he may even be the next Vick, but he won't have the same success as Luck. Another take away from the Combine is that Luck isn't too far less of an athlete than Griffin.

With good athleticism and a great football IQ, Luck could end his career as one of the all-time bests. It has yet to be seen who will have the better Pro Day, but I'd put my money on Luck.

Who do you think is the better quarterback? 

Mike Wallace leaving Steel City?

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                                                                   Steelers WR Mike Wallace

With free agency around the corner some big names are starting to draw interest. Recently the question has been where soon to be free agent Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Mike Wallace will land this offseason. If you've watched ESPN lately, you have heard all the speculation surrounding Wallace. With the Steelers being 11 million dollars over the salary cap, they need to make some moves to get back under the salary cap and losing Wallace could be a result of that. If the Steelers want to keep Wallace they will need to either use the franchise tag or a high tender, which will give them a first round pick if he signs with another team. With teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, San Fransisco 49ers and New England Patriots all needing receivers and all being under the cap the Steelers will have a tough time retaining him.

If the Steelers tender Wallace and another team offers him a contract higher than what the Steelers can pay, they will need to either cut players and match the offer or let him go.   

The Steelers can't let him go, and I don't think they will let him go. With the possibility of Hines Ward not returning, the Steelers are already losing a big target and one of their all-time best receivers. In the last two seasons, no Steelers receiver has been better than Wallace who led the team in yards and TDs. They need to franchise him and make some cuts. With the way the Steelers draft they can afford to make some tough cuts and replace them in the draft. If they let Wallace go they lose their biggest offensive weapon and be left with below average to average receivers. Losing Wallace may not make them miss the playoffs, but the season will have the same result as last season and not make it out of the first round.

It may be a lose-lose for the Steelers, if you keep him you have to make some cuts you don't want to make or you let him go and he goes to a division rival, maybe making them the third best team in the division. Time will tell whether they decide to keep him or not, but there are big changes coming to Pittsburgh either way.

What do you think the Steelers and Wallace should do?

A Giant Feat

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                                                            New York Giants QB Eli Manning

Last night millions watched as Eli Manning again led his team down the field in the final minutes to win the Super Bowl. In another classic game the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl 46.

The game began with a safety for the Giants on a questionable intentional grounding penalty, to give the Giants an early 2-0 lead. After the free kick, the Giants drove down the field for a TD reception by Victor Cruz to extend their lead to 9-0. At the end of the half, Tom Brady and the Patriots drove 96 yards for a TD reception by Danny Woodhead to go into halftime leading 10-9. The Patriots opened the second half with another TD drive to extend their lead to 17-9. In the final 3:46 trailing 17-15, on a drive highlighted by a miraculous 38 yard catch by Mario Manningham, Manning had another Super Bowl winning drive. The Giants drove 88 yards for a game winning TD run by Ahmad Bradshaw for the final score of 21-17.

With another clutch drive by Manning, he now has his second Super Bowl win and Super Bowl MVP. The question now is if Manning is finally considered an elite quarterback. I believe that he definitely is in the top five QBs in the league. He is now one of three active QBs with multiple Super Bowl wins. I consider him one of the most clutch QBs of all time. In the regular season he had more fourth quarter TDs than any QB in the history of the league. He then continued his great play in the fourth quarter into the playoffs and more importantly in the Super Bowl. Every team he beat in the playoffs had a better record than the Giants and he took the underdog role and rode it all the way to a championship. He has at least eight more years left and while continuing his consecutive start streak, which leads all active QBs, he will definitely have the stats and maybe even another Super Bowl to put him in the Hall of Fame.

What's your take on the game and do you think Eli Manning is an elite QB now?

Deja Blue

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                                                           NY Giants, Super Bowl 46, NE Patriots

This looks like it will be another classic between these two teams, with the same result. The New England Patriots with a hurt Rob Gronkowski are relatively the same team as they were in 2007, but with a worse defense. As for the New York Giants, they are a better team than they were in 2007. I know the Giants had the 27 ranked defense this year, but in the last few weeks they have played like a number one defense. Most of the time winning a championship is all about getting hot at the right time and that's what the Giants have done. Whether it's a game at home or on the road, or even being an underdog in their last three games, they have gotten the job done.

The Patriots offense will definitely keep them in it, but as they say, defense wins championships. The Giants have it and the Patriots don't. The Patriots are a field goal away from watching the game at home, because their defense couldn't stop the Baltimore Ravens on a last minute drive. They're lucky to be in this game and that luck ends Sunday. The Giants will again put pressure on Tom Brady and force some bad throws, maybe a turnover or two.

In a game that will go down to the end, most people would pick Brady over Eli Manning, but this year is different. No quarterback this season and even in a single season all time has been better in the fourth quarter than Manning. With the Giants offense having new weapons they didn't have last time in Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham, they go on to win 24-21.

Who do you have in this one?

46 Facts about Super Bowl 46

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With only four days until the Super Bowl here are some interesting facts about the big game. Tomorrow come back to see my prediction.

1.       BenJarvus Green-Ellis will wear a special chin strap called the "Impact Indicator", which will measure the impact of hits he takes.

2.       If the Giants win they will be the first team to do that while having been outscored by their opponents in the regular season. They are now the first to make it with that. PF(394) PA(400)

3.       This is the ninth Super Bowl rematch of a regular season game decided by a TD or less. Seven of the previous eight won by the team that lost the first game (Patriots). 

4.       Eli Manning and Tom Brady are the third set of starting QBs to meet in multiple Super Bowls.

5.       Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick were both on the coaching staff of the 1990 Super Bowl champion Giants.

6.       This is the first time a pair of Super Bowl MVP QBs face each other in the Super Bowl.

7.       10,168 is the highest combined passing yards by the starting QBs in a Super Bowl.

8.       BenJarvus Green-Ellis has an NFL record of 536 catches and carries without a fumble.

9.       The Giants have 13 and the Patriots have 7 returning players from Super Bowl 42.

10.   Tom Coughlin can become the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl. (65)

11.   This will be the first Super Bowl legally streamed online. It is also available on mobile phones.

12.   A 9-7 team has never won a Super Bowl. (Giants)

13.   This is the sixth Super Bowl rematch.

14.   This is the seventeenth time NBC is broadcasting the Super Bowl, tying CBS for the most by any network.

15.   The Patriots can be the first to lose a Super Bowl in 4 different decades. (80s, 90s, 00s, 10s)

16.   The Giants can be the first to win a Super Bowl in 4 different decades. (80s, 90s, 00s, 10s)

17.   Every team the Giants beat in the playoffs had a better record.

18.   This is the second consecutive Super Bowl between teams with at least 3 Super Bowl victories.

19.   This is the fifth Super Bowl between teams with multiple Super Bowl victories.

20.   The Patriots are favored by 3.5.

21.   The favorite is 31-14 all-time.

22.   Bill Belichick is now tied for second for most Super Bowls as head coach. (5)

23.   The team wearing white has won 6 of the last 7 Super Bowls. (Giants)

24.   With Kelly Clarkson singing the National Anthem, 4 of the last 5 Super Bowls have had the Anthem sung by a former American Idol contestant.

25.   Indianapolis is the second state capital to host a Super Bowl.

26.   Eight of the Patriots starters went undrafted.

27.   The Patriots have the worst ranked defense in a Super Bowl. (31)

28.   A 30-second commercial will cost $2,800,000.

29.   The NFC leads 24-21 in Super Bowls.

30.   The AFC is 6-3 in Super Bowls played in February

31.   The team that scores first in the Super Bowl is 29-16

32.   The Giants have broken the streak of 10 consecutive seasons with a different NFC champion.

33.   325,500,000 gallons of beer will be drunk by Americans during the game.

34.   The team that wins the coin toss is 22-23.

35.   Teams that intercept a pass for TD are 11-0.

36.   No Super Bowl has gone to overtime.

37.   The Patriots have won 10 straight games.

38.   The Patriots last loss was against the Giants.

39.   Belichick and Brady have the most Super Bowl appearances by a head coach and QB combination. (5)

40.   Tom Brady became the fifth QB to throw for 5,000+ yards in his playoff career.

41.   Tom Brady is the second QB to start five Super Bowls.

42.   If the Giants win, David Carr will become the third number one overall QB to win as a backup.

43.   Tom Coughlin can become the thirteenth head coach to win multiple Super Bowls.

44.   Belichick can two Super Bowls with more roster turnover than any other head coach. Only three remain from the 2001 season.

45.   The first two Super Bowls the Giants won were four years apart. Their last Super bowl win was four years ago.

46.   Since 2001 the Giants are one of only two teams to have a winning record against the Patriots. 

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