NFC West: Grady Jackson
|Lions and Rams fans have had little to cheer about in recent years.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando and Kevin Seifert
The weekly Double Coverage feature is back with a new twist: Audio. NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert and I joined ESPN's Jay Soderberg in sizing up two rebuilding teams. At issue: Whether the Lions or Rams would fare better in 2009.
The Lions have plugged holes in their roster with veteran players such as Grady Jackson and Julian Peterson. The Rams have flushed out established veterans while becoming one of the youngest teams in the league. The Lions are building around a rookie quarterback. The Rams are trying to revive a veteran under center. The Lions hired Scott Linehan to fix their offense. The Rams fired Scott Linehan as part of a plan to fix their franchise.
Which team is taking the wiser approach? Kevin and I had fun seeking answers. Both teams have defensive-minded head coaches, putting pressure on their offensive coordinators. We covered that ground early before hitting on other topics. An excerpt:
Kevin Seifert: Scott Linehan is the offensive coordinator for the Lions. He obviously had a rough time in your division as the head coach of the Rams, but I covered Scott when he was the Vikings' offensive coordinator, and players loved playing for him. He listened to what they thought and incorporated that into his system. Obviously, they had some very successful years with the Vikings' offense under Linehan and there are some similarities in Detroit with Calvin Johnson playing the Randy Moss role and perhaps Matthew Stafford eventually developing into the Daunte Culpepper role. Until then, they have the actual Daunte Culpepper, so I think [Lions head coach Jim] Schwartz made a good hire and a well-respected hire in Scott Linehan for offense.
Mike Sando: Rams fans are going to have a hard time buying that, though, Kevin. To think you think the Lions upgraded by adding Scott Linehan, who went 5-27 over the last two years [actually 3-17, at which point the Rams fired him before going 2-10 the rest of the way], is a stretch. I will give you this, though. I think as a head coach, he is an excellent coordinator.
Kevin Seifert: Thanks for that.
Mike Sando: I think he is better in that role and I think you are probably right. He can successful in that role and certainly at least you have a guy who has been a head coach. Maybe not a good one, maybe [things] did not go his way.
Kevin Seifert: And what is [Pat] Shurmur's résumé? I know [Steve] Spagnuolo has been with him a while in Philadelphia, but what is his résumé and why should we trust him that he's going to be able to invigorate this offense?
Mike Sando: He has been with high-powered offenses in Philadelphia -- one of the most successful franchises over the last 10 years, for sure, even though they don't have the Super Bowl ring to show for it. I think there is a sense in the league -- we'll see if it's right -- that Shurmur, not unlike Scott Linehan a few years ago, possibly has a future as a head coach. We'll see, but I think the initial signs are encouraging.
Soderberg served as the judge once this mini-debate concluded. Tune in to the podcast to learn how he ruled. The teams will decide matters themselves when they meet Week 8, Nov. 1 in Detroit.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Tony Gonzalez trade from Kansas City to Atlanta leaves Walter Jones and Ronde Barber as the only 1997 NFL draftees still with their original teams.
Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell was the Bucs' college scouting director when Tampa Bay drafted Barber. This week, Ruskell listed Barber among the choices with which he was proud to be associated. Among the others: Brandon Mebane, Leroy Hill and John Lynch.
"They didn't care about where they went in the draft, and they became good football players," Ruskell said. "You got to give credit to the player. It makes you feel good, too, that you did something a little extra."The Bucs also drafted Al Harris in 1997. Harris and Barber are among 17 players from the 1997 class still active. The Seahawks, Rams and Bucs each drafted two of those players. Note that eight of the 17 were first-round choices.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Orlando Pace's release leaves the 1997 NFL draft class with a dozen players on active rosters, including three still
with their original teams.
The Seahawks, Bucs and Jets drafted six of the 12.
Three of the 12 remain with their current teams: Walter Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Ronde Barber.
Eight of the 12 played defense and five were first-round draft choices.Pace will presumably resurface on another team. Chris Naeole and Warrick Dunn are unrestricted free agents from the 1997 first-round class.