NFL Nation: Sam Adams

Thoughts on the Titans' draft from two people involved in evaluating personnel for NFL teams:

Guy No. 1:

“If guys like David DeCastro, a third offensive tackle and Ryan Tannehill go before 20, that will help push someone the Titans like a lot to 20.”

“They could like Michael Floyd, they could like Kendall Wright. But I don’t think a receiver is going to outweigh a defensive player.”

Dre Kirkpatrick could be there for them. He’s a playmaker. He’s been coached hard. He can help them."

“There may be a lot of options for them at defensive end and defensive tackle and I wouldn’t dismiss linebacker either.”

Guy No. 2:

“Last year their big thing was ‘stop the run, stop the run, we don’t like these little defensive linemen.’ Every time I hear something now it’s, ‘We’ve got to rush the passer, put heat on the passer.’

“They’d take Kirkpatrick if he’s there. I don’t think he will be there. Then I don’t think there is a corner that’s attractive at 20.”

“It’s too soon for a guard or center, but if DeCastro fell I could see them taking him.”

“I’m talking myself into Dontari Poe for them. Jerry Gray has had Pat Williams and Sam Adams. Poe will give some push and chase some sacks to Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan. Last year they liked Nick Fairley. Poe has a similar profile to Albert Haynesworth but better football character. He hustles, he tries hard. He’s only played five seasons of football.”

Return of the note about return TDs

December, 27, 2010
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One more return touchdown in Week 17 would leave the Arizona Cardinals tied with the 1998 Seattle Seahawks for the most in an NFL season.

Note that previous reports had associated that record with the 2003 Seattle team; the Cardinals have subsequently updated their note. It was definitely the 1998 team. I covered that Seahawks team and remember it struggling to an 8-8 finish in Dennis Erickson's final season as head coach.

One of the more memorable returns that season: Sam Adams batting Troy Aikman's pass to himself and returning the ball 25 yards for a touchdown.

The chart shows the teams with at least 11 return touchdowns. I've added a column for season records. Arizona and Seattle are the only teams on the list that failed to finish with a winning record despite all those unconventional points.

Seven years of misery for Bills versus Pats

September, 22, 2010
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- One position player on the Buffalo Bills' roster was on the field the last time they defeated the New England Patriots.

That was seven years and 14 games ago.

The Bills will try to snap their losing streak at 13 games Sunday in Gillette Stadium, a place they've never won.

[+] EnlargeLindell
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesRian Lindell made his NFL debut in 2003 against the Patriots -- the last time Buffalo defeated New England.
"You have to have the mentality you're going to win every game," said outside linebacker Chris Kelsay, who played in the last victory and has endured the entire skid. "We'll go there with confidence. We're going to go out there and perform the best to our ability."

The Bills came heartbreakingly close to upsetting the Patriots on opening night last year, but Leodis McKelvin fumbled a kickoff in the final minutes to place Tom Brady on the doorstep of triumph.

The Bills have lost 18 of their past 19 meetings with the Patriots and haven't won on the road since 2000.

"We really haven't done enough to win against them," Bills receiver Lee Evans said. "They've just made plays later in games to win, especially in the close games. That's what the story of this league is. It comes down to making plays down the stretch. They've made more than we have."

Buffalo's last victory over New England was a doozy. Buffalo won 31-0 on opening day 2003. Travis Henry rushed for two touchdowns. Drew Bledsoe passed for one. Sam Adams ran back a Brady interception for another. Brady finished with a 22.5 passer rating.

Buffalo's roster has four players who were around then. Kelsay and kicker Rian Lindell made their NFL debuts. Punter Brian Moorman was there. Cornerback Terrence McGee was on the team but inactive for the game.

New England went on to win its second Super Bowl in three years. Buffalo finished 6-10.

Kelsay said he can't help but daydream about what it would be like to play for a winning organization such as the Patriots.

"I've thought about that before," Kelsay said. "You think what it would be like to be in their shoes. They're winning week in and week out. Anybody that's been in this league for an extended period of time and has lost more games than they've won, I think it's human nature to be curious about that.

"We need to get there. There's no way to beat around it. It's just something we haven't done around here, and somehow, some way we have to win more football games."

Best Ravens Team Ever: 2000

June, 23, 2010
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Notable players: LB Ray Lewis, OT Jonathan Ogden, S Rod Woodson, TE Shannon Sharpe, RB Jamal Lewis, LB Peter Boulware, CB Chris McAlister, DT Sam Adams

[+] EnlargeRay Lewis
AP Photo/Nick WassRay Lewis and the Ravens' defense helped the young franchise win its first, and so far only, Super Bowl.
Analysis: The 2000 Ravens are the clear choice for a franchise that's only been in existence for 14 years. It was the only team to win a Super Bowl and also had arguably the most dominant defense of all time.

Baltimore was far from a perfect Super Bowl team in 2000. Most notably, the team had issues at quarterback. The Ravens started with Tony Banks under center but finished with Trent Dilfer, who played efficiently enough for Baltimore to make an incredible run to end the season.

At one point, the Ravens were a middle-of-the-pack, 5-4 team. Then Baltimore got hot, winning seven straight to end the regular season and four more postseason games, including a victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.

Led by middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the Ravens set several defensive records in 2000, including fewest points (165) and fewest rushing yards (970) allowed in a 16-game season. Baltimore also pitched four shutouts.

There were seemingly no weaknesses on defense. Baltimore's defensive line was stout with Adams and Tony Siragusa, the linebackers were elite, and the secondary had stud playmakers at safety (Woodson) and cornerback (McAlister).

Then-rookie tailback Jamal Lewis anchored the offense with 1,364 rushing yards. Tight end Sharpe was the team's most dependable receiver, recording 67 receptions for 810 yards.

Most impressive win: Although the Super Bowl win over the Giants will go down as the biggest game of the season, the most impressive was Baltimore's dominance in the AFC Championship Game, a 16-3 road win over the Oakland Raiders. The Ravens' defense smothered Oakland's high-powered offense led by quarterback Rich Gannon. Baltimore forced five Oakland turnovers.

Research Room: Longtime Ravens kicker Matt Stover made the only Pro Bowl of his 19-year career in 2000. With an inconsistent offense, Stover was clutch in connecting on 35 of 39 field goals. He led the NFL in both field goals made and field-goal attempts that season. Stover also converted all 30 extra-point attempts.

Lone ranger: Ray Lewis remains the only player currently with the Ravens from their Super Bowl team in '00. Now 35, the future Hall of Famer is still playing at a Pro Bowl level. Lewis signed a multi-year deal in '09 to make certain that he retires a Raven.

Several key members from Baltimore's Super Bowl team left the organization in the past several seasons. Jamal Lewis last played for the Ravens in '06, Ogden retired after the '07 season, and McAlister and Stover last played for Baltimore in '08.

Honorable mentions (in order):

2006 (tie): Baltimore finally got solid quarterback play from former NFL MVP Steve McNair, and the Ravens won 13 regular-season games. But in the postseason they ran into nemesis Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, who eventually won the Super Bowl.

2008 (tie): The Ravens became the first NFL team to win two road playoff games with a rookie quarterback (Joe Flacco). But their run was stifled in fourth quarter of the AFC title game to another eventual Super Bowl champion: The Pittsburgh Steelers.

2001: Baltimore's attempt to defend a Super Bowl title ended with a second-round playoff exit. The Elvis Grbac experiment was a disaster. After signing a big free-agent deal with Baltimore, he had more interceptions (18) than touchdowns (15).

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Jay Cutler would have been "all wrong" for the 49ers. Cohn: "He is not a winner, has a losing career record: 17-20. Did you know that? You don't build a winner around a loser. He has a big mouth and he sulks. He has a reputation for being undisciplined and for coming unglued precisely when a quarterback is supposed to stay glued. Say what you will about [Shaun] Hill's limitations, he is supremely poised -- poise is his main virtue. The Broncos gave up on Cutler precisely because he's immature bordering on goofy and unstable."

David Fucillo of Niners Nation wonders if Dashon Goldson will stay healthy long enough to realize his potential as the 49ers' free safety.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with the Cardinals' cheerleading tryouts because, hey, someone has to do it. This handy photo gallery is probably setting an NFC West offseason record for page views.

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 looks at some of the greatest fullbacks in Cardinals history. Ernie Nevers, Ollie Matson, Jim Otis and Larry Centers are part of the conversation.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams made a smart move in signing Kyle Boller as a backup quarterback. Looking ahead to the draft, Miklasz sees evidence the Rams will select an offensive tackle with the No. 2 overall choice. At the same time, can they really go into the season with Keenan Burton as a starting receiver?

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Boller's deal with the Rams, initially reported as a two-year contract, is really for one season.

Turf Show Times' Tackle Box examines the Rams' running backs while looking at available free agents and potential late-round draft prospects. The conclusion? "So, at this point, I really want the Rams to take a strong and long look at Warrick Dunn. I think with him in the fold, the Rams' offense becomes absolutely powerful. Plus, adding him takes away from our lack of experience at the WR position since you'd have the possibility of Steven Jackson, Warrick Dunn, and Randy McMichael running routes which would definitely keep defenses honest and should free up Donnie Avery deep."

Dan Arkush of Pro Football Weekly says Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn is "very excited" about the team's versatility at defensive tackle. Arkush echoes the general feeling that Seattle will not seriously consider a defensive tackle with the fourth overall choice in the draft. The Seahawks have not drafted a defensive tackle among the top 20 overall choices since selecting Sam Adams eighth in 1994. The team has drafted five defensive linemen in the top 10: Steve Niehaus (1976), Jacob Green (1980), Jeff Bryant (1982), Cortez Kennedy (1990) and Adams. All but Niehaus played in at least 167 regular-season NFL games.

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