With the Dallas Cowboys on the bye this week, these are a few of the NFL games that we can pay attention to. Primarily, sizing up the NFC East teams.
Philadelphia travels to Pittsburgh:
The Steelers are coming off a bye rested and getting healthier. Both teams struggle to protect the quarterback but the Eagles manage to run the ball better than the Steelers. The Steelers are an NFL best on offense in converting third downs while the Eagles are third in the league not allowing them. On the flip side to that, the Steelers really struggle with their own third down defense ranking 30th. This Eagles offense has been a turn over machine and the last thing Andy Reid and his offensive staff want to do is give the Steelers short field opportunities. If the Eagles manage to win this game, its bad news for the rest of the NFC East because they have already beat Baltimore at home which leaves just Cleveland and Cincinnati on the schedule and the real possibility of going 4 – 0 against the AFC North which is a feat in itself. Pittsburgh will not be able to run the ball so it will come down to their receivers having to win on the outside against these Eagles corners. If the Steelers can keep Roethlisberger up right, their chances of winning improve greatly but that is a big if. I have always believed in the NFL that the more desperate team finds a way to win. With the Steelers looking at the possibility of being 1 – 3 that thought has already begin to sink in as they were on their bye.
Atlanta travels to Washington:
I have always felt like that if you take Atlanta out of the Georgia Dome, you had a great chance to defeat them but the Falcons made a cross country trip and slapped around a pretty good San Diego squad. The Redskins had a physical game last week in Tampa and managed to come away with a victory. The Falcons stole a game from the Panthers that they had no business winning but to their credit, they did. The Redskins really struggle to put pressure on the quarterback and without Brian Orakpo that job has become even more difficult. Matt Ryan and the talented wide receiver core for the Falcons of Roddy White and Julio Jones will make it difficult on the Redskins back end. Where the Falcons struggle is playing run defense and Mike Shanahan knows this and will use Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III to try and control this game much like he was able to do against the Saints opening day. The Falcons are 29th in the league on third down defense and ranked 31st in the red zone. The Redskins have more than enough talent to play with the Falcons but if it turns into a tight, tough game, their kicker Billy Cundiff is one of the worst in the league when it comes to connecting on kicks, just something to keep on eye on.
Denver travels to New England:
There has been a ton of talk in NFL circles that Peyton Manning is playing with limited arm strength and opponents are game planning for that. The Broncos have a real weapon in receiver Demaryius Thomas and how the Patriots play against him will tell you a lot of how they really feel about Manning’s arm strength. Denver’s offensive line is ranked 10th in the league in protecting Manning while the Patriots are ranked 25th in the league at sacks per attempt. So if Manning gets time, there could be some plays made down the field. Throughout his career Bill Belichick has been able to defense Manning like no others. On the other side of the ball, Tom Brady has the Patriots offense humming and with Steven Ridley running the ball with effectiveness it has taken pressure off Brady. You could say that this game could come down to turnovers but Brady doesn’t make those mistakes and the Broncos don’t intercept many passes. The Patriots do a great job of holding the ball and converting third downs where the Broncos have struggled on third down defense. I have a feeling that both quarterbacks will be protected, but this game will come down to who is better in the secondary.
And if you’re REALLY bored:
The New York Giants play Cleveland
The Dallas Cowboys are the NFL’s first and only $2 billion franchise, Forbes Magazine announced today as it released its annual team value list.
Michael Ozanian, Forbes’ executive editor, said the Cowboys’ value, which the magazine tabs at $2.1 billion, is "a conservative estimate."
Ozanian said the magazine took into account the Cowboys’ $80 million in sponsorship income, their state-of-the art stadium and the fact that they are the only team in the NFL that distributes its own merchandise to retailers.
Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million. That’s roughly a 715 percent increase to today’s value, factoring in inflation.
While the Cowboys stood atop the list for the sixth consecutive year, the New England Patriots (worth $1.63 billion) passed the Washington Redskins ($1.6 billion) for the second spot.
The New York Giants, valued at $1.46 billion, landed in fourth while the Houston Texas rounded out the top five at $1.3 billion.
Despite playing in the same stadium, the magazine estimated the net worth of the New York Jets at about $200 million less than the Giants.
"We have the Giants bringing in $27 million more in revenue, plus they’re getting the Super Bowl bump on ticket prices," Ozanian said.
Despite the threat of concussion litigation that could eventually cost the NFL billions of dollars, the magazine doesn’t have a single franchise losing value from last season.
"There wasn’t any loss of value reflected in the recent Cleveland Browns sale," Ozanian said. "The investment bankers we spoke to told us that prices haven’t dropped in terms of what people are offering for small or large shares of teams."
Forbes stated that 20 NFL teams are worth more than $1 billion, the most of any league. That number is up from 15 teams last year.
The Cincinnati Bengals, worth $871 million compared to $875 million last season, are the only team that lost value.
Forbes projects only two teams had operating losses last year — the Pittsburgh Steelers ($1.1 billion), due to a higher payroll, and the Oakland Raiders ($785 million), thanks to having the lowest revenues in the league.
The magazine concluded that the two teams that had the biggest jump in value were the Minnesota Vikings ($975 million) and the San Francisco 49ers ($1.17 billion), whose values jumped 22 and 19 percent, respectively, as a result of their new stadiums being built.
The Cowboys’ $2.1 billion value matches that of the Los Angeles Dodgers purchase by Guggenheim Partners. Forbes says only Manchester United is worth more. The magazine said the soccer team was worth $2.23 billion, but the team’s recent offering on the New York Stock Exchanged valued it at $2.9 billion.
If the reports are right about Cleveland putting Colt McCoy on the clearance rack, the Cowboys ought to offer the Browns a late-round pick.
This isn’t about creating competition for franchise quarterback Tony Romo or even backup Kyle Orton, for that matter. It’s about acquiring an intriguing developmental project for a low price.
The ex-Longhorn would be an upgrade over the Aggie.
The Cowboys clearly aren’t excited about Stephen McGee’s development. Had McGee impressed important Valley Ranch folks, they would have bumped him into the backup role instead of giving Orton a three-year, $10.5 million contract. McGee is expected to compete with waivers pickup Rudy Carpenter for a roster spot.
McCoy, who has two seasons left on his rookie deal and is due to make $540,000 this season, at least has the potential to develop into a quality starter. He really wasn’t too bad playing for a talent-starved Browns team, passing for 4,309 yards with 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 21 starts.
If McCoy comes to Dallas and performs well this preseason, perhaps the Cowboys could flip him for a better pick than they gave up to get him. If not, they’ve improved the No. 3 quarterback spot with a young player who has potential, even though he wouldn’t be a perfect fit in Jason Garrett’s system.
If the Browns are just looking to dump McCoy, there should be room for him at Valley Ranch.
What do you think? Leave a comment
Jerome Henderson jumped at a chance to reunite with Rob Ryan in Dallas. Henderson coached under Ryan for two seasons in Cleveland. The Cowboys hired him when his contract with the Browns expired.
“If you know coach Ryan, if he’s gone, you miss him,” Henderson at his introductory news conference. “My experience with coach Ryan is he’s very intelligent; he’s very passionate about this game. He thinks football all the time, and he knows football. He’s very loyal. He’s going to wrap his arm around all his guys, and he’s going to make sure he takes care of his guys. You appreciate that as a coach. You appreciate the way he thinks about you, and he’s not afraid to say, ‘I think you do a hell of a job.’ You appreciate that as well. And you miss that. You do. You miss his fire. You miss everything that he is.”
Jason Garrett said he was swayed on Henderson by the opinions of Ryan, linebackers coach Matt Eberflus and defensive ends coach Ben Bloom, who all worked with him in Cleveland.
“They just spoke so highly of him,” Garrett said.
Henderson played eight seasons (1991-98) in the NFL as a defensive back.
“I think there are pieces in place that excite you here,” he said. “And I just hope to contribute to what’s already being done here.”
The Cowboys are in the process of hiring Jerome Henderson as their new secondary coach to replace Dave Campo. The Cowboys had already informed Campo that they wouldn’t renew his contract.
Henderson, 42, has spent the last three seasons as the Cleveland Browns’ secondary coach and he would be reunited with Rob Ryan in Dallas. Henderson worked under Ryan, the Cowboys defensive coordinator, his first two seasons in Cleveland.
Reached at his Cleveland-area home on Tuesday night, Henderson confirmed that he’s currently in discussions with the Cowboys about their secondary coaching position.
"Right now nothing has transpired between me and the Cowboys. We are in discussions but nothing has happened," Henderson said. "I don’t want to speak out of turn."
Henderson declined to comment further. The Cowboys did receive permission to speak to Henderson and a deal could be finalized soon.
Prior to joining the Browns, Henderson spent the previous two seasons as a member of the New York Jets’ staff.
Henderson played eight seasons as a defensive back in the NFL after New England made him a second-round draft choice in 1991. He played with the Patriots (1991-93, 1996), Buffalo (1993-94), Philadelphia (1995) and the Jets (1997-98) in his NFL career, during which time he appeared in 98 games with 34 starts. He recorded nine career interceptions. Henderson played in two Super Bowls, with the Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII and with New England in Super Bowl XXXI.
Henderson grew up in Statesville, N.C., and went on to play four years at Clemson (1987-90).
Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan
The deterioration of the Dallas Cowboys’ defense is consistent with the career path of its coordinator: Rob Ryan.
This is Ryan’s ninth season as an NFL defensive coordinator, with Oakland, Cleveland and the Cowboys. In that time, his teams are 28-61 (.315 winning percentage) through November 30 and 9-27 (.250) from December 1 through the end of the regular season. (Ryan has never been with a winning team as a DC, let alone a playoff team.) In those 36 late-season games, Ryan’s defense has allowed 30-plus points 15 times.
Being in the playoff hunt is a new experience for Ryan, as a DC. Before this season, the teams that employed him as a DC had never won more than five regular-season games. The overall record for Cleveland and Oakland with Ryan as DC: 30-82.
Late in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s game against Cleveland, Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison delivered a brutal hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy that may have resulted in a concussion and could very well cost him some money. McCoy scrambled out of the pocket and ran to his left as Harrison ran over to stop him from running for a first down. Just after McCoy got a pass off, Harrison launched himself into McCoy and hit him helmet to helmet.
Harrison was flagged for a personal foul and despite laying on the ground for several minutes, McCoy returned two plays later.
Hmm.. Harrison making an illegal hit against the Browns that may have caused a concussion.
Last season, Harrison crushed two Browns players on different plays with helmet-to-helmet hits. Both players suffered concussions and did not return to the game. The NFL fined Harrison $75,000 for one the hits.
As one would expect, Harrison doesn’t believe that hit was dirty or illegal.
"From what I understand, once the quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s considered a runner," Harrison told The Plain Dealer. "All the defenseless(ness) and liberties that a quarterback has in the pocket are gone and you can tackle him just as he’s a running back. The hit wasn’t late, so I really don’t understand why it was called."
We’ll have to wait and see what Commissioner Roger Goodell thinks.
Rob Ryan (born December 13, 1962 in Ardmore, Oklahoma) is the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. He is the son of former defensive coordinator and head coach Buddy Ryan and the twin brother of current head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan.
When his parents, Doris and Buddy Ryan, divorced in 1966, Rob and his twin brother Rex, moved with Doris to Toronto. In 1974, they moved back to the United States to live with their father. He attended Stevenson High School in Linconshire, Illinois.
Ryan was a graduate assistant at Western Kentucky in 1987 and at Ohio State in 1988. Ryan then spent 5 seasons at Tennessee State, where he coached running backs (1989–91), wide receivers(1992) and the defensive line (1993). He served as defensive coordinator at Hutchinson Community College in 1996, where they led the nation in total defense (228 yards per game) and in sacks (56). His defense also set a national record by forcing 49 turnovers. Ryan originally entered the NFL coaching ranks in 1994 as defensive backs coach on his father’s staff at Arizona Cardinals. He also coached Cardinals cornerbacks and safeties in 1995. With Ryan as his position coach, cornerback Aeneas Williams earned two trips to the Pro Bowl in 1994 and 1995. In 1995, the Cardinals led the NFL with 32 interceptions and 42 total takeaways. The 1994 Cardinals ranked second in the NFL total defense, second in run defense and third in pass defense. From 1997–99, Ryan was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, where the Cowboys defense continually ranked among the best in the nation, also he was named Coordinator of the Year by The Sporting News in 1997.
As former Browns defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman said earlier in the week, Cleveland’s upset of New England last year wasn’t just surprising to NFL fans around the country.
The Patriots didn’t see it coming, either. Using a number of crazy looks on defense, the Browns surprise-attacked New England.
“The bottom line is when we played them last year, it wasn’t like we were rolling,” Coleman said Wednesday. “However they perceived us in Cleveland, I don’t know, but we’ve just got to realize that we’re going to get their A effort this year.”
Rob Ryan, the Browns’ defensive coordinator who now holds the same position for the Cowboys, doesn’t think Cleveland snuck up on the Pats, and knows good and well the Cowboys won’t be able to do so.
“There’s no chance of that,” Ryan said. “I don’t know what it was. I don’t think Bill Belichick has many bad weeks of preparation. I’m sure they prepared hard. I think our guys played hard, and we were fortunate enough to get the ball bouncing our way in that game, and we won the game, so that’s what’s great. But this week, it’s going to be even better.”
This week’s gameplan, characterized as “the kitchen sink” and “a head-scratcher” by Ryan’s own players on the Cowboys defense, is a credit to two defensive assistants, Ben Bloom and Dave Borgonzi, doing extensive research on the Pats.
“Both of them coached at Harvard,” Ryan said. “So they’re going home. They’ve prepared and they’re ready to go, so we’re going to be at our best.”
IRVING, Texas — Winning at New England will be a difficult task for the Cowboys, but Rob Ryan’s recent history against the Patriots should help.
Ryan coordinated Cleveland’s defense last year that limited Tom Brady to 224 yards on 19-of-36 passing, confusing the Patriots with a variety of looks. Like this year, Ryan and the Browns had the bye the week before playing New England.
In a 34-14 loss to the Browns, New England had just 19 first downs, converted on 3 of 11 third down opportunities and had 283 total yards.
“We just went out and executed our game plan,” said safety Abram Elam, who started for Cleveland last year. “We gave them a bunch of different looks. We attack them and committed to not giving up the big play. That’s big with them. That’s a good offense. They find a hole and they do a good job of making adjustments, so you always have to stay ahead of the game with them.”
Cleveland’s offense helped that day, too. The Browns ran for 230 yards, led by Peyton Hillis’ 184 yards on 29 carries. New England had the ball for 21 minutes, 52 seconds that day.
BALTIMORE (AP) — Former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando “Zeus” Brown was found dead Friday at his Baltimore home. He was 40.
The cause of death wasn’t known.
Fire spokesman Battalion Chief Kevin Cartwright said firefighters were called about 11 a.m. Friday because Brown was unresponsive at his home near the Inner Harbor. Cartwright said Brown was dead when firefighters arrived.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said firefighters called police, routine procedure in such cases. He said there were no signs of trauma or suspicious activity.
The Ravens learned of Brown’s death during practice.
“We send our condolences to the family of Orlando Brown,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Everybody knew what he meant to this organization. We’re forever grateful for what he did for the present team. We can’t express enough sorrow for his loss.”
Born Dec. 12, 1970 in Washington, D.C., Brown played 10 NFL seasons, including four with the Cleveland Browns (1993-95 and 1999) and six with the Ravens (1996-98 and 2003-05). He started 119 of his 129 games.
Ravens director of player development Harry Swayne, Brown’s former teammate and fellow tackle, called Brown “a big old puppy dog with a little bit of a bark.
“He had a lot of friends around the league. He was one of the best guys. It’s a tough loss.”
Brown always will be remembered for shoving official Jeff Triplette in a 1999 game between Cleveland and Jacksonville.
Brown was suspended for knocking down Triplette after the official threw a weighted penalty flag that accidentally struck the massive tackle in the right eye. The 6-foot-7, 350-pounder stormed onto the field and pushed Triplette.
Brown, whose father was blind from glaucoma, said concern for his eyesight caused him to confront Triplette. Brown was hospitalized for six days with bleeding behind the eye. He sued the NFL for $200 million, settling the lawsuit for $25 million.
He missed the next three seasons because of the injury, returning to football and the Ravens for the 2003 season.
Browns tackle Tony Pashos played three seasons in Baltimore with Brown, known as “Zeus” around the league.
“He was a really good teammate,” Pashos said. “I came in under him as a backup. Even when Zeus wasn’t on the team he came around and supported us. He loved us. He loved football. He could never walk away. Man, I can’t believe it. I remember the attitude he brought to the building to the room. He tried hard. He told the young guys throughout practice to try hard and work on technique but then when it comes to games, it’s about taking the other guy’s will. And he was the apex of that. He did do that.”
Former Ravens head coach Brian Billick said Brown will always be one of his favorites.
“He brought such passion and physicality to practices and games,” Billick said in a statement released by the Ravens. “There is no way to quantify his heart, his actual love to play football. The game was so important to him.”
Brown was a frequent visitor to the Ravens’ practices, tutoring young linemen Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood.
“He took time out of his busy schedule over the last couple of months to work with me to help me grow as a player,” Harewood said. “To have a player and man of his stature do that for a young player like myself says all you need to know about him.”
Brown was divorced and is survived by three sons.
BEREA, Ohio — In his quest to excel in the West Coast offense, Browns quarterback Colt McCoy couldn’t think of anyone better to help teach it to him this off-season than future Hall of Famer Brett Favre.
McCoy called Favre and asked if he could come to his hometown in Hattiesburg, Miss., to work with him on the precision scheme, one that Favre ran for 20 years. Favre obliged, and the two spent about four days together pouring over the offense and throwing passes.
“Since I couldn’t get coached, it was a great opportunity to pick the brains of a guy who’s played in this system for 20 years,” McCoy said through a team spokesperson. “It was a chance for me to get a lot of questions answered. We worked on footwork, progressions, reads and things like that. It was definitely a positive trip.”
Favre, an 11-time Pro Bowler, spent seven seasons perfecting the West Coast offense in Green Bay under Browns President Mike Holmgren, then the Packers coach. The offense run by Pat Shurmur was handed down from Holmgren to Eagles coach Andy Reid to Shurmur, so it’s as close as McCoy could get.
During four of Favre’s seven seasons with Holmgren, he earned a passer rating in the 90s. He also threw an average of 35 touchdowns and 16 interceptions during five of those seasons. Together, Holmgren and Favre rode the scheme to a Super Bowl victory over the Patriots in 1996.
McCoy, who organized four lockout workouts to help teach the offense to his teammates, also spoke on the phone with former NFL head coach and Holmgren protege Jon Gruden about the scheme.
McCoy saw some early results from his work. Despite just 11 practices before the preseason opener, McCoy completed nine of 10 attempts for 135 yards and a touchdown. He earned a 152.1 rating, which is not far off a perfect 158.3.