NFC East: Tim Tebow

PHILADELPHIA – That old truism applies to quarterback Michael Vick. It is only going to take one team to believe he is the best solution for its quarterback problem.

But it will help if that one team has the right conditions to deal with any potential fallout from signing the still-controversial Vick. As I wrote recently, Philadelphia Eagles fans have gotten used to having Vick around after five years. Fans in other cities still may have an adverse reaction to having Vick join their favorite team.

But ESPN's Adam Schefter's report fits the bill. Schefter tweeted today that the New York Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are two franchises likely to have interest once Vick hits free agency next month.

The Jets' offensive coordinator is Marty Mornhinweg, who served that role for Vick's first four seasons with the Eagles. Mornhinweg knows Vick very well on two important levels. He doesn't have to wonder what it would be like to bring Vick into a locker room, and he has as good a feel as anyone for building an offense around Vick's skill set.

The Jets' head coach, Rex Ryan, might be more open than most to taking a shot with Vick. Ryan has spent the past couple years dealing with quarterback issues: Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Geno Smith. If Ryan is going to last much longer with the Jets, an experienced and talented quarterback couldn't hurt.

Vick will turn 34 in June. He is not going to be any team's long-term solution as a franchise quarterback. But Ryan and the Jets are a perfect example of a situation where a short-term fix might make perfect sense.

As for Tampa Bay, Mike Glennon showed some genuine promise after replacing Josh Freeman as the starter. But Glennon wasn't exactly a Nick Foles-level revelation.

New head coach Lovie Smith went to a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as his starter. Like Ryan, he's a defense-first guy. He's also an experienced, no-nonsense coach with the self-assurance to withstand any backlash that might come with signing Vick.

There are other possibilities, of course. The Oakland Raiders remain a franchise that is difficult to read from the outside. They have always had a reputation for welcoming players with tarnished reputations.

The Cleveland Browns seem less likely to be a fit for Vick now that Kyle Shanahan appears poised to become their offensive coordinator. During his time in Washington, Kyle and his father Mike Shanahan had difficult relationships with Donovan McNabb and Robert Griffin III. It's hard to imagine Vick choosing to go there if he has other options. Browns president Joe Banner was with the Eagles when they signed Vick in 2009, but players don't spend much time with club presidents.

The free agency period comes between the scouting combine, when teams can get a real feel for the crop of incoming quarterbacks, and the draft. Teams that need a quarterback and can't be certain of drafting one might find Vick their best option.

It only takes one.
PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles said Sunday he wanted to play quarterback at the level established by the likes of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

No one gets into that club without a Super Bowl ring, but the numbers say Foles is playing at that level.

Passer rating? Foles is tops in the NFL at 128.0.

QBR, which measures overall quarterback performance? Foles’ 78.2 is second only to Manning’s 82.8.

[+] EnlargeNick Foles
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesNick Foles has thrown 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions this season.
Yards per attempt? Touchdown/interception ratio? Foles is right there at the top.

The question becomes, then, what do the numbers mean to Chip Kelly?

The Eagles' coach is the one who will decide whether Foles or Michael Vick is his quarterback for the rest of the season (spoiler alert: barring injury or prolonged slump, it has to be Foles) and then whether Foles or someone else is his quarterback for 2014 and beyond.

“The big thing for me with our quarterbacks is wins, No. 1, and then interceptions, No. 2,” Kelly said Monday. “(Foles) has been really good at both things. A lot of that, attempts and all that, a lot of times it depends on who’s calling plays. He can’t throw where you’re not calling it.

“Anything that gets over 100, it skews me. I don’t know how you get like a 132. I know the higher the better, but the biggest thing for is us is, are we winning? We’ve won with Nick, and he’s not turning the ball over.”

Foles has thrown 16 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. He has led the Eagles on the three-game winning streak that has taken them from 3-5 and reeling to 6-5 and first place in the NFC East.

All that, and he is still not officially the Eagles’ No. 1 quarterback. Kelly has deferred making any pronouncements until Vick is healthy enough to play. Kelly said Vick “could have played” if necessary against Washington on Sunday. He was inactive, though, because there was no reason to force the issue with his twice-injured hamstring.

But that means the day of reckoning is coming. Barring a setback, Vick should be healthy when the Eagles return to practice next week, after their bye.

“(Foles) is going to start for the bye week,” Kelly said, teasing reporters who have been asking who's-the-starter questions since Vick got hurt.

More seriously, he said he would sit down with Foles and Vick and explain his plan “whenever we get two healthy guys that we need to talk to.”

The only reason to go back to Vick would be if Kelly believed the veteran was better at running his offense. And it’s pretty hard to make the case for that when Foles is running Kelly’s offense as well as any quarterback is running any coach’s offense. Foles is even running the ball off the read-option pretty well.

“When Nick takes off, it’s not 60 yards, it’s six,” Kelly said. “In critical situations, he can still do that. There’s flexibility in what we do. It’s all based on personnel. Anybody who’s smart is going to cater their offense to what (the quarterbacks) do.

“The best example in this league is (Denver’s) John Fox. When he had Tim Tebow, he ran one offense and they went to the playoffs. When he had Peyton Manning, the offense changed. He didn’t ask Peyton Manning to do what Tim Tebow was doing. He also didn’t ask Tim Tebow to do what Peyton Manning is doing.”

It’s safe to say Foles is closer to Manning’s style than Tebow’s. Foles might not be at Manning’s elite level yet, but he’s the closest thing Chip Kelly has.

Twitter mailbag: Pass-happy Giants

September, 14, 2013
9/14/13
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ASHBURN, Va. -- After the Washington Redskins wrap up their minicamp here Wednesday, rehabbing quarterback Robert Griffin III plans to spend another week at the facility before going off to get married and enjoy the "personal life" portion of his offseason. He said after Tuesday's practice that he considers himself a responsible enough person to keep his rehab from reconstructive knee surgery going during his honeymoon, and had a succinct answer when asked how prepared he was for a possible setback in his recovery.

"I'm not," he said. "You just don't think negatively. I think LeBron said, you don't play the game afraid to get hurt. So I don't worry about setbacks. I just worry about my progress moving forward."

There really wasn't any actual "news" on the RG III front Tuesday. He worked on the side in practice with the other injured guys, running, throwing, staying out of team drills. He continues to say he's confident he'll be ready for training camp when that begins in Richmond next month, though he also said he has a month's worth of cutting drills to get through before that can happen. He took one question about Tim Tebow and a couple about his role in the planning of his wedding.

"Sometimes, I actually have a choice," he said. "And sometimes, it doesn't really matter what I say."

But as for the knee, Griffin says it's all about continuing to go through the slow rehab and doing everything right along the way to make sure the ultimate goal of being healthy for the season -- and beyond -- is met.

"I think, on the mental side, I'm okay," he said. "It's just the physical side, teaching my body to re-learn all the movements. That's what we're still working on."

Some other things I saw, heard, asked and learned Tuesday at Redskins minicamp:

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
AP Photo/Carolyn KasterQuarterback Robert Griffin III says he's confident he'll be ready for training camp next month.
The Redskins' offensive players are fine with the idea of backup Kirk Cousins as the starting quarterback while Griffin gets himself healthy. Left tackle Trent Williams chuckled when I asked him how it was going with Cousins taking first-team snaps.

"He's great. He's a stud," Williams said. "He's definitely got that strong pocket presence, that accuracy and he's a great leader, too. We don't worry at all if he's the starter. I just think it's funny -- everybody's looking for "that guy," and we've got two of them."

Griffin quoted Williams when asked about how Brian Orakpo was looking as he works to return from a pectoral muscle injury: "To quote my left tackle, 'Rak's out there pass-rushing like it's the NFC Championship Game." Indeed, Orakpo looks as though nothing ever happened, and he talks and acts like a guy who has missed a lot of time and can't wait until he's allowed to tackle someone again.

Speaking of guys who have been out a while, remember cornerback Chase Minnifield? He was the talk of last year's minicamp before a knee injury knocked him out for the season. He practiced in full Tuesday and says the biggest issue he's facing is getting used to going up against NFL wide receivers in practice. "I've just got to tone up on my technique," he said. "As far as my movement, my speed, my quickness ... that's all good. I feel like my play can stack up against anybody in this league." Minnifield picked off a Rex Grossman pass in team drills and looks like a guy who could help the secondary. The Redskins are just always going to have to worry about a recurrence of injury with him.

In discussing his depth chart heading into training camp, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said, "If you were a first-teamer last year, you'll start out as a first-teamer this year and then we'll see." This would seem to indicate that the starting right tackle job is Tyler Polumbus' to lose. Shanahan also said Brandon Meriweather, who projects as the starting strong safety, should be medically cleared in time for training camp, according to what the team's doctors are telling him.

Free-agent wide receiver Donte' Stallworth was at practice, and Shanahan said the team expected to sign him in the next couple of days.
Can't talk right now. Limbering up my chat muscles. Preparing to make today's the greatest May chat in ESPN.com NFL history. You don't want to miss it. Make sure and get all of your links.

New York Giants

Steve Tisch, one of the Giants' owners, theorizes that going to the Jets was a bad thing for Tim Tebow's career. Which, duh. But lest you think (as I did upon reading that headline) that even the Giants' owners can't find interesting things to discuss about the Giants this time of year, Tisch also says he liked the Aaron Curry signing and the draft.

Whatever becomes of Ryan Nassib, he'll always be able to say his first day on the field with the Giants went better than Eli Manning's did back in 2004.

Philadelphia Eagles

Monday's was the first Chip Kelly practice that was open to the media. The reporters who were there spent the morning live-tweeting the music that was blaring and trying to track who was playing quarterback for which play. Les Bowen says the pace and the atmosphere lived up to the hype.

And remember the other day when Michael Vick supposedly beat LeSean McCoy in a 40-yard dash? Well, McCoy isn't going down like that. He claims Vick started early and won't agree to a rematch.

Washington Redskins

In his weekly mailbag, Mike Jones says the Redskins don't appear to have any interest in bringing back Chris Cooley and discusses replacement options for London Fletcher.

The Redskins' secondary, however the pieces end up fitting, is going to have to come together quickly this season. Rich Tandler looks at the early tests the schedule poses.

Dallas Cowboys

Tim MacMahon believes that the plan to involve Tony Romo in the game planning and playcalling more than in prior years is the latest erosion of the authority of head coach Jason Garrett, and I can see where Tim MacMahon's coming from. Thing is, though, if it works, Garrett's not on the "hot seat" anymore, right?

With rookie minicamp over, Cowboys first-round pick Travis Frederick has returned to Wisconsin to continue working on the Android app he's helping to develop. You know. That old story. Heard it a million times. I think Ray Nitschke had to miss part of his rookie minicamp for the same reason, but Google's coming up blank on that.

Breakfast links: RG3 and the Eagles

November, 15, 2012
11/15/12
8:00
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You know what dawned on me last night? With the Giants on bye, not one of the NFC East teams that's playing this weekend (a) has a winning record or (b) can possibly have one by this time next week either. Sheesh. Tough times. Links.

New York Giants

I am speaking 100 percent honestly when I say I couldn't care less about this whole "Is Eli Manning elite?" discussion anymore. Seriously. I'm as tired of it as I am of my mortgage. Makes my eyelashes hurt. Whether Phil Simms (who said a few months ago that Manning would go to the Hall of Fame) considers Manning "elite" or not by whatever definition he or anyone else chooses to apply this week is about as relevant as a Jets player telling a reporter Tim Tebow is "terrible" without putting his name to it. It's non-news, and it passes for news these days in the guise of "the discussion" when in fact it's fabricated garbage. But the Giants are off this week, and when the Giants are off there are never any Giants stories to link to, so here's what I have for you. Simms talking in circles yesterday about the non-thing he said the day before. Enjoy.

Big Blue View looks at the question of whether David Diehl or Sean Locklear should be starting at right tackle for the Giants. In all honesty, it's not as though they benched Jonathan Ogden when Diehl came back, right? However he's played the past two weeks, if Diehl is the guy the Giants' coaches think gives them the best chance, is it really worth arguing Locklear's case?

Dallas Cowboys

Dez Bryant got a "conditional dismissal" of his offseason domestic violence charge, which means he's in the clear if he can go to regular counseling and stay out of further trouble for one year. This does not sound like a significant challenge, but you know. We'll find out. In answer to your likely first question, no, I don't think the NFL will suspend Bryant over this, though they haven't said for certain.

Oh, and DeMarcus Ware got that half-sack he wanted from Sunday's game, so his streak is still intact. Good for him. This could make the difference come Hall of Fame voting time, right?

Philadelphia Eagles

The key for Nick Foles as he approaches his first NFL start is to try as hard as he can to treat it the way he's treated every other game he's played in this life. This may or may not be easy, but it's his goal, and whether or not he succeeds at it may go a long way toward determining how he does in the game.

The Eagles were not in a position to draft Robert Griffin III, whom they'll face for the first time Sunday. But Andy Reid did meet with Griffin before the draft, and he made a definite impression.

Washington Redskins

Stephen Whyno writes that Michael Vick's concussions and other various injuries he's suffered in his career stand as a warning to Griffin that he needs to make sure not to be a reckless runner if he wants to succeed and last as a quarterback.

And one more on Griffin and then we're done for this morning at least: His teammates have elected him one of their captains in this, his rookie season. Mike Shanahan says he can't recall that happening before.
Happy Wednesday. Let's get you caught up on some of the transaction and other news that went down late in the day Tuesday with a heaping helping of your morning links.

Dallas Cowboys

While much of the talk about DeMarco Murray has been about his tough running and his somewhat disconcerting love of contact, Todd Archer writes that it's important to take note of the second-year Cowboys running back's football intelligence, too. Murray is a big key to this offense -- a fearless running back who, like quarterback Tony Romo, can help the Cowboys succeed in spite of their offensive line issues. They need to keep him healthy.

Jerry Jones remembers that the Redskins nearly beat the Cowboys twice last season when Washington's quarterbacks were Rex Grossman and John Beck. And after watching Robert Griffin III's debut Sunday, Jones says he's not looking forward to seeing the Redskins this year or in the years to come.

Washington Redskins

Mike Shanahan says that, when considering the kinds of run plays they wanted to design for Griffin, the Redskins' coaching staff watched tapes not only of Griffin's college games but also 2011 tapes of running quarterbacks Cam Newton of Carolina and Tim Tebow of Denver.

The Redskins have placed long-snapper Nick Sundberg, who played the second half of Sunday's game with a broken left arm, on injured reserve/designated to return. That's the new IR, that doesn't require the player to sit out the season. Sundberg must miss at least eight games. His replacement is former Colts long-snapper Justin Snow.

Philadelphia Eagles

You are now free to call 2011 second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett a bust if you so choose. Despite opportunities to contribute at safety during his time in Philadelphia, Jarrett failed to show much of anything, and he was cut Tuesday so that the team might bring back wide receiver Mardy Gilyard. Thin at receiver due to injuries to Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Riley Cooper, the Eagles decided it was more important to have an option at wide receiver this week than it was to maintain whatever depth Jarrett might represent at safety. A missed special-teams tackle in Sunday's game may have been the last straw for Jarrett.

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson donated $50,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project and spent the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks hanging out with some of the soldiers the organization works to help. Good work, DeSean.

New York Giants

Left tackle Will Beatty is hoping he gets cleared to start and play Sunday against the Buccaneers. He says he's ready to go because he's been working against the Giants' excellent defensive ends in practice. But he wasn't OK to start the season opener, at least not according to the team, and so he waits to find out.

Victor Cruz says he knows he's a marked man after his breakout 2011 season. And he understands he had a bad game in the season opener on Wednesday. But it's about looking forward, and Cruz and the Giants insist they're better prepared this week.

Observation deck: Giants-Jets

August, 18, 2012
8/18/12
11:17
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The good postgame news for the New York Giants following their 26-3 preseason victory over the Jets is that starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw's hand seems OK. The Giants took X-rays that came back negative, and Bradshaw told reporters after the game that he had a cyst on his hand that burst when he hit it on someone's helmet. I do not know why a cyst bursting would require an X-ray, but I am not a doctor. Upshot appears to be that Bradshaw will be fine, which is significant for a Giants team whose running game still needs work.

The Giants finished 32nd in the league in rush offense in the regular season last year, mainly because of a line that couldn't get any push forward in the run game. That was on display again Saturday night, as neither Bradshaw nor D.J. Ware nor Andre Brown nor David Wilson could find a hole all night. The Giants finished with 58 yards on 32 carries, which is dreadful. Now, rush defense appears to be one of the few things the Jets do well, so that might have had something to do with it. But the concern with the Giants when they struggle is that they get physically handled in the trenches. The offensive line struggled with that last year and has so far in this preseason.

Now, that intro breaks my general rule about trying to open with a positive in these preseason game reviews. But I thought Bradshaw was the biggest news of the night, and in fairness it is a positive that his hand is not broken. And there are a ton of Giants positives in the remainder of my review of what I saw Saturday night:

1. The defensive line looks as though it will be just fine. Even with Justin Tuck leaving early with a neck injury (he also said he was fine), the Giants' pass rush completely abused Wayne Hunter and an overmatched Jets offensive line. Jason Pierre-Paul and reserve defensive end Adewale Ojomo each had two sacks and the Giants had seven as a team to go with their nine quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss. But what I thought was most impressive while the first-team defense was in there was the performance of starting defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard, who forced the issue in the middle of the line and limited the Jets on the ground as well. The Giants are banged up at defensive tackle with Chris Canty and Marvin Austin on the shelf, but Bernard and Joseph played as though they didn't want anyone to worry.

2. Eli Manning likes throwing to Victor Cruz. Manning didn't do a lot to help the Giants find their No. 3 wide receiver. Five of his seven completions were caught by Cruz, and while that was fun for Giants fans to watch, everybody already knew that hookup worked. Ramses Barden did drop one Manning pass early on, which didn't help his case. Overall, Manning had a poor night, completing 7 of 14 for 62 yards and an ugly overthrow interception. But he's obviously the least of their worries.

3. As for those No. 3 receiver candidates ... Rookie Rueben Randle made the best catch of the night, a leaping 49-yarder from David Carr. But it was his only catch of the game. Jerrel Jernigan caught two passes for 26 yards, Domenik Hixon one for four yards and Barden was shut out. The buzz during the week was about a Manning quote that said they could rotate guys into that role and into situations that maximize their different strengths, and that's a reasonable way to handle the situation. But I still think Barden's going to have to grab that role if he wants to make the team. The other guys help on special teams.

4. Chase Blackburn's probably safe for a while. Blackburn and Kenny Phillips combined to fill a gap and make a nice stop on Shonn Greene on a second-down run. Later in the game, Mark Herzlich suffered a hip pointer. Blackburn's the starting middle linebacker for now, and Herzlich's going to have to come and take the job from him. Blackburn hasn't done anything to lose it, and now Herzlich's hurt. Keith Rivers, by the way, looked active on the outside, starting in place of an injured Michael Boley.

5. Got to like Jayron Hosley. The rookie cornerback was a star of the game on defense and on special teams, where he returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown. Reports from the postgame locker room say Hosley had his foot in a walking boot, so it seems as though he got injured, too. Would be a shame if he had to miss time. It looks as though the Giants want to use him a lot, and other than last week's muffed punt, everything he's done on the field has made him look like a very useful guy.

6. Wilson does show something. The rookie running back out of Virginia Tech was a first-round pick for a reason. You can see, when he gets room to run, what he brings in terms of explosiveness. I believe he'll be a good player for the Giants. He even looked good in blitz pickup once he got into the game. But this national perception that he's the sure-thing backup or some sort of threat to take carries away from Bradshaw has gotten out of hand. He's clearly fourth on the running-back depth chart right now, and Ware has earned that No. 2 spot. Wilson will develop, maybe quickly, and likely be an asset for the Giants down the road. But he has developing to do, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's kind of how the Giants roll.

7. Will Hill. He's getting to be a fun story, playing well at safety and coming up with a sack of Tim Tebow. Could be a nice latent-talent find by the Giants' front office, a la Herzlich and of course Cruz.
If you live within 100 miles of where I live, you're well aware that the New York Giants' preseason game Saturday is against the New York Jets. They play every year in preseason, which is sensible because it eliminates a trip for each of them. But this year, I don't know if you've heard, the Jets have Tim Tebow on their team. Yeah, I know. It's hard to find any information about it. I had to dig and dig.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
Al Bello/Getty ImagesEli Manning has delivered peace of mind and titles to the Giants, while the Jets endure a media circus.
Anyway, as a result of the foolish acquisition of Tebow to cast a massive, undeserving shadow over their already-insecure young starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, the Jets have become a full-blown circus this offseason. Every move Tebow makes, shirtless or otherwise, is the topic of relentless debate. The media have been charting and reporting on each throw Tebow and Sanchez have made during training camp practices, in spite of the team's denial that they're in a competition with each other. The public appetite for Tebow is insatiable -- he's a ratings-driver and a page-views-driver -- and so the coverage has consumed the Jets' preparations for their 2012 season. We all knew it would. The Jets were either too ignorant to believe it, or too arrogant to care.

Either way, my point here on the NFC East blog about all of this is that one look at what the Jets are going through should make the Giants and their fans grateful for Eli Manning. Sure, his two Super Bowl titles have made them grateful enough already, but the Giants' proximity to the Jets' situation underlines the dramatic difference between the peace of mind Manning offers the Giants, and the sheer insanity that can envelop your franchise when you're unsettled at quarterback.

We've discussed this many times. If you get your quarterback situation right, you are set up. You're a perennial playoff team and, if the guy's got the right stuff, a championship contender. If you get quarterback wrong, you're flailing. Nothing else seems to work. You can't get your feet set and run the rest of your organization, because the most important part of it is a question mark.

The Giants have Manning, a former No. 1 overall pick who's been everything they could have imagined and more. The Jets have Sanchez, who was the No. 5 pick in the draft and has actually had some success at the NFL level, but they've mismanaged him horribly. After reaching the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons, Sanchez saw his team allow his offensive line, running game and wide receiving corps to erode. Then, when blame for a disappointing third season was falling on his shoulders, they brought in a backup quarterback whose cult following is intense enough to make him the focal point of a team whether he's playing or not.

So as a result either of Sanchez not being as good as they'd hoped or their own mismanagement of him, the Jets have a murky mess at quarterback. And as a result of Manning being everything they'd hoped and their own development of him and the group around him, the Giants have one of the most solid and reliable quarterbacks in the league. It really can be that simple. And when you watch the Giants and the Jets play Saturday, if you're a Giants fan, you're going to be looking at Tebow and Sanchez and thinking, "I'm glad that's not my team." It's worth looking at Manning as the reason you're glad the Giants are.

Fantasy week: Robert Griffin III

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
2:09
PM ET

This is the one for which many of you have been waiting. Every day, I get questions about whether Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III can have a rookie year like the one Cam Newton had for the Carolina Panthers in 2011. I would venture to say that most of these questions are fantasy-rooted, since no Redskins fan would want Griffin to have the same win-loss record Newton had in 2011. So here's the fantasy football roundtable discussion on Griffin, in which that very question is raised.

Lots of differing opinions. Ken Daube cautions that "this is still a rookie quarterback, and I don't believe this rookie quarterback is worth a roster spot in fantasy leagues." K.C. Joyner says Griffin was actually more productive at Baylor when he threw to receivers other than Kendall Wright, and therefore thinks Griffin is a guy who makes his teammates better and can be productive no matter the situation. Avowed Redskins fan Matthew Berry thinks Griffin is a good fit for the Shanahan offense, but admits that he can't speak on this topic without bias.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin
Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesRobert Griffin III's value as a fantasy quarterback likely depends on how much he contributes in the running game.
But the key point in all of this is about what potentially makes Griffin different from other fantasy options at his position -- his foot speed. He's a passing quarterback first, yes, but he has the ability to make plays with his legs. The extent to which he does this in games will determine whether he's a difference-making fantasy quarterback. Newton's fantasy value last year was obviously tied to his legs and the extent to which Carolina used him as its goal-line running back. Without the rushing numbers, Newton was a fine fantasy quarterback, especially for a rookie. With them, he was one of the very best options.

Michael Vick is another example of a guy who goes from good to great as a fantasy option because of the rushing numbers. Not as much last year as in 2010, but still enough to overcome his turnovers to a fair extent. And the guy Matthew brings up toward the end is maybe the best example. Tim Tebow is one of the worst passing quarterbacks in the NFL. But add in his rushing numbers, and he becomes a very helpful starting fantasy quarterback (assuming he's the starter).

Griffin's going to have rookie growing pains as a starting NFL quarterback. He's going to make mistakes, and he's going to lose some games. I believe he's also going to do some spectacular things that hint of the great player he might someday be. But as for transforming the Redskins from doormat to contender in his first year? Hard to imagine. His real-life value is long-term.

But as a fantasy quarterback, it's entirely possible he'll gain enough yards on the ground to outperform his No. 15 preseason ranking. And if you're thinking about whether to draft him late as a backup with upside, that's the reason to take a chance. Having a quarterback who runs is like having an extra running back in your lineup on certain weeks. It can make all the difference.
Yes, last week's attempt to host a live video mailbag via Vokle was a total disaster, as both the video and the audio stopped working as soon as we went live. However, a large number of people did show up to try to watch it, and the good folks at Vokle spent some time with us late last week to help us work out the kinks. So we're going to try it again. Check back on the blog at 2 p.m. ET today for what we hope and believe will be a live video mailbag -- a chance to ask questions via your computer's webcam and have me answer them live. I hope you'll give us another chance at it. More details to come. Meanwhile, links.

Washington Redskins

Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has the hottest-selling jersey on NFLShop.com in the month of May. The NFL released the sales figures since April 1, and Griffin ranked third behind Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow (who switched teams) and two spots ahead of Giants quarterback Eli Manning (the highest ranking for any player who's not a rookie or on a new team), but RG3 is the top seller in May. Not a surprise. There have to be Redskins fans out there who haven't been excited enough about a player in years to buy any jersey at all. Griffin has taken the town by storm before he's even thrown a real pass.

Ryan Kerrigan expects himself and the Redskins' pass rush as a whole to be better in his second season. Kerrigan was an excellent pass-rusher as a rookie, but with a full season behind him and a full offseason ahead of him, he has reason to feel as though the NFL game is finally slowing down for him a bit.

Dallas Cowboys

Add Tampa Bay to the list of markets that think their team would benefit from acquiring Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins. But the Buccaneers were already on the list of 31 teams that probably aren't going to get him, because the Cowboys have no good reason to trade him.

And Blogging the Boys writes on the forgotten but potentially very important Cowboys free-agent signing -- backup quarterback Kyle Orton.

New York Giants

Hakeem Nicks told Tom Coughlin that he'd be recovered from his broken foot in time to start training camp. However, like many professional athletes, Nicks is not a doctor, and so there remains the strong chance that this is just brave talk. And besides, what's the rush? It's not as though Nicks needs to learn the offense or develop a rapport with the quarterback. The original 12-week recovery timetable gets him back in time for the Giants' second preseason game. Why risk further injury by rushing back? I'm sure the Giants will take great care to make sure Nicks is ready in time for the start of the regular season, as much as I'm sure they'd love to have him on the field with them in Albany.

Sticking with the theme, second-year Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara is running for the first time since having an offseason procedure to help promote healing in the foot he broke last year in training camp. Amukamara's injury is the same as Nicks', but when you read in that story that he needed 15 weeks to get back, it's important to remember that he was a rookie and the Giants wanted him to be up to speed in more ways than just physical. Amukamara's recovery time should not be used as a pinpoint gauge of what to expect for that of Nicks.

Philadelphia Eagles

Second-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo says he'd "take a bullet" for Eagles coach Andy Reid. Surely, that won't be necessary, but Castillo isn't shy about expressing emotion in interviews, and it's clear that the way Reid stood up for him last year has only fortified an already strong friendship. Castillo uses it as further motivation to build on what he believes was real progress by the defense late in the 2011 season.

Much attention will focus on the safety duo of Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, who project to be the starters at this point. They feel as though they're in this thing together.

Breakfast links: Home sweet home

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
8:00
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Back home in New Jersey after four lovely days in Palm Beach at the NFL owners meetings. Man, they had some good links there at the Breakers. But for today, these will have to do.

Dallas Cowboys

Even with free-agent Dan Connor in the fold, the Cowboys might not be done adding to their inside linebacker corps. But Jason Garrett did not make it sound as though free agents Bradie James or Keith Brooking are likely to re-sign.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will have a lap-band procedure to help him lose weight. Ryan's twin brother, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, had the same procedure done in 2010.

New York Giants

Ohm ponders what the Giants will do to replace Brandon Jacobs now that the longtime Giants running back has signed with the 49ers. I agree with Ohm that someone on the level of Carolina's Jonathan Stewart is not a realistic option and that they'll probably sign a cheap veteran running back to throw into the mix with Ahmad Bradshaw and the young guys they have.

Tom Coughlin says he doesn't care if Tim Tebow and the Jets are dominating the New York tabloid headlines, because he and the Giants won the Super Bowl, and he figures the folks reading those papers still remember that.

Philadelphia Eagles

Andy Reid was asked whether old pal Donovan McNabb would be an option for the Eagles at backup quarterback. He did not make it sound as though he would. Some people have asked me about McNabb, but I have no reason to believe he'll play again. For the Eagles or anyone else.

There's a report out there that the Tennessee Titans, who lost Cortland Finnegan to the Rams in free agency, might be one of the teams interested in trading for Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel. And there's a report out there that they're not. So we'll see. Won't be the last team connected to Samuel in this kind of report.

Washington Redskins

Mike Shanahan isn't worried that the league might still penalize the Redskins over bounty programs that may or may not have been in place when Gregg Williams was their defensive coordinator. He's counting on Philip Daniels' recollection to carry the day.

Shanahan also said that left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Fred Davis would have to prove themselves to their teammates, in light of the drug suspensions that ended those players' seasons early.
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- We are all up bright and early this morning for the first of two "coaches breakfasts" at the NFL owners meetings. Pretty cool deal, actually. Today, all of the AFC coaches sit at tables for an hour and you can sit with them and ask them anything you want. The NFC coaches do it tomorrow. So, in my capacity as NFC East blogger, I will of course be working those tables tomorrow for information and insight from Jason Garrett, Tom Coughlin, Andy Reid and Mike Shanahan. But I'm going to today's session, too, to do some work on another project and because you never know what you might learn.

I don't know if they'll have links there. I do know you have them here.

Dallas Cowboys

After saying he'd talk with reporters Monday about the salary cap penalty issue, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones declined to do so and in fact stayed very much out of sight all day. (I mean, I was looking for the guy from 8 am until 10 pm, and I saw him once, and he was in a room I wasn't allowed to enter.) It sounds as though the Cowboys and the Redskins will both keep quiet on this, though you should stay tuned because you never know with Jerry, right?

Wanna hear what Tony Romo thinks about Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow? Here you go. What? Hey, at least it's not about Romo playing golf. I know you guys just love it when I give you the Romo golf updates...

New York Giants

Giants general manager Jerry Reese spoke with Sirius XM Radio about several issues, including the team's ongoing hunt for a middle linebacker and the idea of "slow-playing" free agency. I'm amazed that I still get questions from Giants fans about why they haven't done much in free agency. They don't have much cap room, first of all. And second of all, this is how they usually handle free agency, and it seems to be working well for them, no?

Former Giants wide receiver Steve Smith signed with the Rams, which could be an Eagles link because he "played" for them last year and could be a Cowboys link because some Cowboys fans were wondering if their team might sign him to replace Laurent Robinson but is ultimately a Giants link because Smith was much more a Giant than he ever was an Eagle or certainly a Cowboy.

Philadelphia Eagles

Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is doing a periodic draft diary for Philly.com, and Sheil Kapadia has the latest installment. We don't know if the Eagles will end up picking Kuechly in the first round, but he's a guy who would fit nicely there, and he's someone who's been on the minds of Eagles fans, so there you go -- a little look into the pre-draft process through his eyes.

Jeff McLane explains why he thinks the Eagles could use one of their first three draft picks on a quarterback.

Washington Redskins

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said that commissioner Roger Goodell has the "full support" of the league's other owners on the matter of the salary cap penalties against the Redskins and Cowboys. Of course, Kraft also said Goodell was "in the best position to speak to that," and a few hours later Goodell refused to do so. So, you know. Whatever.

My old friend LaVar Arrington thinks this is a case of two NFL owners bucking the "old-school" approach the others are so determined to preserve. And in truth, this does feel more and more like a vindictive personal issue among the owners involved. That's probably why the league doesn't want anyone talking about it anymore. If the arbitrator assigned to the case thinks there's some kind of personal motivation behind the penalties, that might make him more likely to overturn them.
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As the sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean, the NFL's owners, coaches, GMs and almost anyone else with any connection to the league rise to begin their annual meetings at The Breakers. Most everyone checked in Sunday, and much of the lobby chatter was about the salary-cap penalties against the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. There will be more of that talk today, along with a great deal of other NFL business, and we'll keep you posted on all of it the best we can. Time to get you started, though, with some links.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he'd speak with reporters here Monday about the salary-cap penalties against his team and the Redskins. In light of what Giants owner John Mara said Sunday about the situation, I think we're all eager to hear Jerry's thoughts on this.

I enjoyed Calvin Watkins' short appreciation of former Cowboys running back Marion Barber in the wake of Barber's retirement announcement late last week.

New York Giants

Mara was in a bitter mood over several things as he took questions upon his arrival at the meetings Sunday. After he got through excoriating the Cowboys and the Redskins for breaking something that doesn't appear to have been a rule, he was asked what he thought about Tim Tebow signing with the Jets. "I don't know," he said, "but the David Carr press conference is tomorrow, too." The Giants sometimes get a little too fixated on the Jets, you see.

Giants 101 did a mock draft for the Giants and has them taking a pass-rusher, of all things, with the final pick of the first round. It's certainly not a need pick, but it wouldn't be a surprise. The Giants believe in what they believe in, and one of those things is that the draft is for building a deep roster, not for plugging short-term holes.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles tend to come to these meetings with a purpose, and as Jeff McLane wrote Sunday, this year's may be to see what kind of deal they can get for cornerback Asante Samuel. Now, you can argue the merits of trading Samuel versus trading Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or even Nnamdi Asomugha. But for contract reasons and other reasons, it seems Samuel is the guy for whom they'd like to get something, and they should have some idea over the next couple of days what they might be able to get in return. If they can do better than a fourth-round pick, I imagine they'll jump on it.

In the wake of last week's Los Angeles Times report about front-office infighting in Philadelphia, Phil Sheridan ponders where the fault lines might lie.

Washington Redskins

Len Pasquarelli says the Albert Haynesworth deal was largely to blame for the penalties incurred by the Redskins in the salary-cap mess. What I've been given to understand is that this wasn't about just one or two deals, but rather about the Redskins repeatedly restructuring many of their existing deals in such a way as to dump money into the uncapped year. It's apparently something many teams did, but that the Redskins did to an extent that the other owners found odious.

The idea of a Redskins training facility in Washington, D.C., is a complicated one, and this here doesn't make it sound as though it's very far along or close to fruition.

NFC East 'Madden' Bracketology

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
9:49
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So we have this thing where you can go on and vote for who you think should be on the cover of "Madden NFL 13," and perhaps because it's March it's been set up as a bracket. There are 32 players in the bracket. The idea was that there'd be one for each NFL team, but as you can see the Patriots and Jets each now have two. All the Jets had to do to get their second was spend Wednesday completely embarrassing themselves.

But I digress.

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is the 2-seed on the left side of the bracket, matched up in the first round against 15th-seeded Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo. We all like Orakpo, and he's sure to get a bit of a boost from the small measure of fame he's earned giving the caveman a hard time on the Geico commercials. But Cruz is the popular breakout star of the surprise Super Bowl champs, and he's sure to roll through the first round. In fact, as I break down the bracket, Doug Gottlieb-style, I don't see too many potential tough matchups for Cruz until the final. Fourth-seeded Larry Fitzgerald could give him a run, but I think the winner of that stellar second-round matchup between Fitz and the Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy is going to be spent. And I like Cruz's chances even against top seed Cam Newton in the semis. I'm picking Cruz to salsa right into the final.

McCoy is the fifth seed on the same side of the bracket, and he's got a tough draw. A first-round matchup against an underseeded Reggie Bush, who has a Kardashian history and may pull in some tabloid votes, is brutal. Then he's likely to see Fitzgerald in the second round and Newton in the third. If McCoy makes it to the semis, he'll have earned his way there, no doubt about it.

On the other side of the bracket, Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware is the No. 10 seed and matched up in the first round against No. 7 seed Jared Allen of the Vikings. I like Ware to pull the upset here, and while there's trouble looming in the second round from No. 2 seed Rob Gronkowski, I think Ware's won enough "Madden" games over the years that he can upset Gronk as well. I have Ware in my Elite Eight, but that's where his dream ends. He's going to get either Tim Tebow, Arian Foster or Calvin Johnson there, and those guys are heavyweights.

My bracket has Cruz meeting Aaron Rodgers in the final and Rodgers getting his discount double-check revenge for the Giants' victory over the Packers in the NFC playoffs. But what do I know? I picked the Packers to win that game, and I never do well in the bracket pools.

Anyway, go vote. It'll give you something to do while you wait for London Fletcher to sign or the Giants to do something or whatever it is you're doing these days as a fan of a team in the super-quiet NFC East.

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