AFC South: Montavious Stanley

RFA inaction update

April, 13, 2010
4/13/10
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We’ve seen little overall action on restricted free agents, and no RFA from the AFC South has signed an offer sheet anywhere.

I think teams should be more active in this department, as I discussed here.

Shockingly, no one in power listened to me there.

It’s news when a restricted free agent signs his tender, sure. I saw several of those from around the league flashing across Twitter during my recent vacation.

But the real news would be one of them not ultimately signing it. I’m not going to devote too many blog posts to RFAs following through on their only real option. We’ll see more and more of these soon.

The deadline for signing an offer sheet with another team is Thursday.

Then, if a guy really wants a chance to be traded during the draft, he’s got to be under contract when calls are made and the paperwork needs to be turned quickly. Think he creates a lot of leverage by not signing the tender?

On June 15, old clubs can pull tender offers to unsigned RFAs and still keep exclusive rights by substituting an offer of 110 percent of 2009’s salary.

Here is the status of RFAs who were tendered in the division.

Houston

Indianapolis

Jacksonville

Tennessee

A broad division by division list of blogs out there, some of which I have never heard of and may have to check out.

A good receivers/tight ends free agency preview from Vinnie Iyer.

Houston Texans

John McClain chats at noon.

Anticipating free agency with Alan Burge.

Chester Pitts has been rehabbing his right knee for months and will become unrestricted Friday.

Amobi Okoye is preparing for a trip to Nigeria.

Indianapolis Colts

Bill Polian thinks quality skill players will be available late in the first round, says John Oehser. Some other quality stuff in here including a link and excerpt of Don Banks on an encounter with Peyton Manning.

Rob Prince has been hired as assistant offensive line coach, reports Rivals.

Stampede Blue looks at Prince’s background.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars signed Montavious Stanley to a one-year deal before he could become a restricted free agent.

Gene Frenette looks at Tim Tebow perceptions and realities.

“The supply of pass-rush types isn’t nearly as deep as the supply of players who are strong at the point of attack. A player who is skilled at both is special,” says Vic Ketchman.

Some plans for fixing the Jaguars pass rush from Zoltan Paksa.

Tennessee Titans

A check-in on Tony Brown talks, from Terry McCormick.

A review of the Titans at linebacker from Music City Miracles.

A look at restricted free agency

February, 19, 2010
2/19/10
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It’s a whole new offseason world starting March 5, and we have no experience from which to predict what happens in an uncapped year. There are enough restrictions on the players’ side to offset the Wild West so many initially projected.

One area I am really curious to see is restricted free agency. Because there are fewer unrestricted free agents (it takes six years to get there now, not four), will teams be more protective of their RFAs and more aggressive in terms of signing RFAs from outside to offer sheets?

I certainly think a creative front office that can go after the right guys can lure them away or at least get a trade conversation going.

Teams must tender their RFAs by the end of March 4. Here are the levels of tags:

With no CBA by March 5, and we aren’t expecting one, here are the RFAs for each team in the AFC South, according to the NFLPA.

Houston

Indianapolis

Jacksonville

Tennessee

No cap can be so restricting

December, 30, 2009
12/30/09
9:16
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NFC South maven Pat Yasinskas obtained the list that lines up with this report about the 212 players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in 2010, who will instead be only restricted free agents if a new labor deal isn't reached.

Stinks to be these guys who stand to lose a lot of leverage, and in many instances, a lot of money.

Houston

Indianapolis

Jacksonville

Tennessee

Lingering AFC South issues

October, 15, 2009
10/15/09
3:21
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky


We know a lot about the AFC South after five weeks, and each team has at least one big question as Week 6 rolls around. Let’s examine each team, shall we?

Houston Texans

 
 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
 Steve Slaton is gaining just 3.2 yards per carry after averaging 4.8 ypc in 2008.
A year ago it seemed as if the Texans had found their scheme and their back, thanks to Alex Gibbs’ zone-blocking attack and third-round star runner Steve Slaton. A team that ranked 13th in rushing was plenty good enough to provide a balanced offense and a believable play-action option, a key element in the passing attack that features the team’s best player in receiver Andre Johnson.

But these Texans cannot run -- they rank 30th in the league with only 75.4 yards a game. After they struck out in their pursuit of free agent Cedric Benson -- who may have been perfect but certainly found a better situation in Cincinnati -- they failed to find the complementary back to go with Slaton. Their undrafted rookies didn’t earn the job and they turned to veteran Chris Brown. Unfortunately, Brown is completely miscast as a short-yardage specialist and has failed to score from close range when given the chance to tie two games late.

Left guard Chester Pitts was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in Week 2 and right guard Mike Brisiel is finished for the year with a foot injury. Take away 40 percent of a line that relies on continuity and it compounds the problem. With a 3.2-yard average, Slaton is not been nearly as explosive as he was last season when he averaged 4.8 yards a carry.

Maybe they tinker with the scheme based on how they are being defended. But they’re going to have to do their best to work through it, as a personnel change that would solve things doesn’t seem possible.

Indianapolis Colts

Cop-out alert: At 5-0 heading into their bye, the Colts aren’t perfect and run-blocking qualifies as a concern. But I am hard-pressed to call it an issue or to find another. I think they are the best team in the AFC.

I thought the waiving of Ed Johnson was going to amount to the team’s first adversity. But once the team said it was a result of performance, I think it became something that won’t linger long. Having the smallest section in this blog entry is a good thing, and the three others would happily trade spots.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have done all sort of tinkering with their defensive front, and they are now regarded as a 3-4 team that converts into a 4-3 on third down and clear-cut pass-rush situations. No matter how the linemen and linebackers are aligning, however, they fail to generate a consistent pass rush.

 
 Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
 Derrick Harvey, a 2008 first-round pick, has yet to collect a sack this season.
Jack Del Rio’s team is simply not talented enough to win without making opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable. They found ways to beat division rivals Houston and Tennessee, but lost to teams quarterbacked by Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner and Matt Hasselbeck.

They will continue to try to find ways to collapse the pocket and hit the quarterback. But the Jags are downplaying expectations for second-year end-outside linebacker Derrick Harvey as a rusher. They traded up to draft him at No. 8 last season and took Quentin Groves in the second round. The two were supposed to be the next generation of pass-rushers. They’ve combined for no sacks, one fewer than defensive tackle Montavious Stanley, a player who’s been waived four times since 2006.

Guys on the roster can get better and stronger, but this group needs an influx of talent that won’t arrive until free agency and the draft.

The good news on the pass-rush front? Nine of the Jaguars’ remaining 11 opponents don’t have unflappable, high-quality quarterbacks. But those quarterbacks will be excited at the possibility of having their best days against Jacksonville because they could be harassed less against the Jags.

Tennessee Titans

There isn’t a unit on the Titans that isn’t culpable for their 0-5 start. Out of 22 starters, I can only look at one -- middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch -- and conclude he’s doing better work this season than he did a year ago.

 
 AP Photo/Wade Payne
 The Titans need Michael Griffin to step up in the secondary.
Pass defense is the top issue, however, and the drop-off was extreme well before the Titans started to get hurt. Now without Vincent Fuller and Nick Harper for an extended time, they will see young corners Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton continue to be tested even as they’ve added veteran Rod Hood. If Cortland Finnegan (hamstring) is still out, Cary Williams could also come into play. Those inexperienced defensive backs (and Hood, who is new to the system) could be just what a tandem such as Tom Brady and Randy Moss needs to get clicking.

Certainly a less effective, less consistent pass rush is a piece of the poor pass coverage. The defensive line is considered the team’s deepest position, and it’s a group that must play better to help those in coverage survive.

But what the Titans need to happen in the defensive backfield to provide some long-term comfort is for free safety Michael Griffin, who’s regressed, and Finnegan, once he’s healed up, to make leaps in maturity and accountability and show they can be guys to be built around the way Michael Roos and David Stewart are on the offensive line.

The young talent must return to form. We’ve talked about age as an issue, and it’s fair to presume there will be a lot of turnover after this season with or without a new collective bargaining agreement.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars think John Henderson can return to the form he showed in back in 2006. Whether he can or can't, defensive tackle may be the Jaguars biggest question mark.

I'm sure they hate when we harp on ancient history. But when the Jaguars had Henderson and Marcus Stroud side by side, teams knew they were in for a physical battle. The duo provided the identity not just of the defense, but of the team.

 
  Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
  The Jaguars are looking to tackle John Henderson to anchor the defensive line.

Can they get it back?

If they do it'll be because Henderson rebounds and a collection of lesser known players combine to be productive around him. Last year Rob Meier was the second starter, but the team has since concluded less is more with him in terms of snaps.

I talked with defensive line coach Ted Monachino and asked him to share an assessment of the interior guys beyond Henderson:

Derek Landri: "His dominant traits are his effort and his quickness. When you tie those things together, he can change plays to help your defense win games. Some of the things that he needs to continue to work on and improve on are just lining up across from a guy and whopping him physically in the run game. But we did enough with Derek that he can still be an effective run player. I think his chances are excellent to be a big player in what we do."

Meier: "What we'd like to do with Rob is get him enough snaps so that he can be effective for every one of them. Rob has a tendency to go in there and spend himself in a hurry. If we try to get 50 snaps out of a guy who plays best when he only plays 30, then that's our fault. We don't ever have to worry about Rob not playing the best he can play when he puts his hand down. Does he have some liabilities? Sure he does. There are things he can get better at. He's similar to Derek. He's got a bigger body and a bigger frame than Derek does, but he's still more of an edgy, penetrating, disrupting defensive tackle. We think he's got plenty of gas left in the tank to contribute. I think the number is 25 to 30 plays."

Atiyyah Ellison: "He's got to be in the right system to perform well. Being in an attacking front that involves some movement and allows for some flexibility in his charges, I think, makes a difference with him. If he had to line up head up and two-gap somebody, which is what they were doing with him in San Francisco, he did a great job at giving great effort to do that, but I think he's more suited to do what we do here. He has been a very pleasant surprise. We didn't have low expectations, but for him to come in and put in the body of work he's put in, that's a very pleasant surprise. Very strong and explosive, a real thick body, but has some legitimate quickness and athletic ability as a pass rusher." [More on Ellison sometime soon.]

Terrance Knighton: "He's a young guy that needs to do some things physically to get himself into position where he can play as hard as he can for as long as possible. We need to get him into a manageable area when it comes to body weight. [He's listed at 325.] I'm talking about what is the best weight that he plays at? We've got to figure that out, we've got to figure out can he play a 60-snap game at the weight he's at? Right now we're seeing great things out of him as far as being able to physically whip blockers, his ability to get off and make some athletic plays in the run game and he's also got a little bit of sneaky pass rush ability."

Two others in the mix are Jonathan Lewis (a worker) and Montavious Stanley (who knows the scheme from a previous stint.)

Will any of those guys be Stroud in his prime? That would be a big surprise. Is there enough there to piece together effective play? The Jaguars sure believe so.

Said GM Gene Smith: "We may have some unknown guys or some unproven guys in that group, but there are some talented guys and it's a very competitive group right now. So, it's going to be interesting to see the cream rise to the top. There is still an evaluation period that needs to take place. We think we've got strength in numbers. We'd like for a couple guys to emerge, guys that take three and four hands to block."

Keeping track of the developments here may be as significant as any in camp.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

OK, here's the promised super elite mailbag, where the best question on each team I got Friday got an automatic spot. It didn't work out as well as planned in some ways, so I cheated and went two questions per team figuring you could handle the extra reading. (Yes, I'll buy two people per team a Coke if they find me at camp.)

The jab at Jaguars fans produced a lot of questions about them, way to step up.

Sunday, look for a bonus mailbag with two broader, bonus questions because they were among the best my plea produced.

Onward...

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Last time I will point you to this solicitation of feedback on "Reading the coverage."

Thursday's column on former Oilers/Titans offensive lineman Bruce Matthews as a new assistant for the Texans.

Dan Graziano asks burning questions and offers predictions.

Houston Texans

John McClain previews the Texans at receiver.

Alan Burge reviews how the Texans fare in the ESPN.com fantasy football rankings.

Lance Zierlein looks at some backup running backs you should be monitoring.

Indianapolis Colts

KC Joyner looks closely at Joseph Addai's productivity, concluding Addai wasn't as effective as he needed to be when his line made its blocks.

Who will start at running back, asks John Oehser?

Mike Chappell doesn't think bringing back Marvin Harrison would be a good move for the Colts.

Oehser breaks down Tom Santi.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars signed veteran defensive tackle Montavious Stanley.

Jack Del Rio is getting a lot of support in the poll connected to this BigCatCountry.com piece that makes the case for and against him.

Tennessee Titans

Jim Wyatt looks at the Titans tight ends.

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