Hey there! So much to talk about...let's dig right in
Matt: Nice pick on Denver....sterling as usual.
Batting .500 in the playoffs with my picks....not good enough. Keep selling Baltimore short. Insane game though. But thanks for noticing.
Can you see anybody making trades for Alex Smith or Matt Flynn in the off-season?
Sure. Why not? Obviously a giant QB shortage. Still, those are fall back options.
You're a Ravens hater but you shouldn't be grilled for that pick. NO ONE had them walking into Denver and upsetting 18 & co.
No question. Well, truly not a Ravens hater, but they really were not a very good football team for much of the regular season, despite their record. This is the best team they have fielded all year. They deserved to win in DEN-again, a crazy game with so many components to get into-but if Moore doesn't make the worst play in the history of the Safety position, the Pats are traveling to Denver this week.
who do you have playing in the superbowl?
Is Ray the best MLB of all time? Name your top three LBs of all time.......
1. LT (Much different type of LB than the others on this list) 2. Butkus 3. Lewis 4. Ham
Is Aldon Smith's decline in sacks a direct result of Justin Smith's effectiveness or have teams figured something out on Aldon?
I think it is a direct result of the lack of J Smith more than anything. That isn't to say that A Smith wouldn't be a double digit sack guy without J Smith, but this D is WAY different when he is in and not.
Why are you picking the Niners?
More physical. Better in the trenches. ATL doesn't handle running QBs well. Better coached.
Patriots in a close one?
Not sure if my previews are up for these games yet, but if not-they will be soon. INSIDER stuff, but about 1,200 words really digging into both games. But in that game, I picked the Pats by a TD.
Not counting the special teams TD's the Ravens D played pretty well- From what you saw on film are Ngata, Reed, Lewis and Suggs close to healthy?
What is amazing is that BALT had BY FAR the best overall special teams in the league this year too! Anyways, yes, I think that group is healthier than at any point this year-and resting them in Week 17 in a coaching move that hasn't gotten enough credit. Are they the same four dominant players we are used to seeing though? No
Where do you think Derrick Thomas would be on your list of all-time LBs if he didn't pass away?
I haven't given this list extreme thought to be honest outside of those top 4, but I also think it would be smart to put guys like LT, DT, Ware, etc into their own category. DT needs to be in the Top 5 of those guys though, riht? Behind Ware and LT for sure though.
How much is Manning's legacy hurt by yet another one and done in the playoffs? Seems his abysmal playoff record is never mentioned by the pundits.
It is hurt bad. No way around it. He still moon walks into the Hall of Fame, but I don't know how you can argue him over Brady any more. This last game was odd/telling/interesting. That INT was just awful, but diagnose his entire game: He never looked comfortable in the cold-I am convinced he is not a cold weather QB. They NEVER threw deep. Like EVER. The entire game. Didn't make many difficult throws overall either. Made some nice throws, but not a lot of tough ones. Wonder how his neck was feeling. Also, Fox playing it SO conservative when the game was on the line: 3rd and 7 and you hand off? Did Fox and Manning both know he wasn't right/capable? Wouldn't you think Manning would override Fox's call there? I want to watch that game again after this chat for all those reasons.
Sources saying Chip Kelly is leaving Oregon to coach Eagles... Do you believe his scheme can succeed in the NFL?
Just heard that myself. Well,the fan in me is very excited about it-I want to see how well it works. Need to give it some time though. I really didn't want to see him go to Cleveland, but this is a better fit. RB fits the system better. But does Foles?
What should the Seahawks do to improve in the draft/ FA?
I don't think they need much, but would like to see one more component to that OL, preferrably a RT/RG masher to run behind. Another WR would be helpfful for sure as well. Couldn't hurt to fortify the DL also.
Is the read option offense for real or is it just a matter of time when D-cords put together a package that slows it way down.Also is it an offense you can run long term or is it more of a way to get the most out of a young athletic QB a chance to win while he is learning to be a more conventional QB?
The Read Option is for real, but I think EVERY D Coordinator will diagnose it this offseason and it won't be as much of a staple for some of these Os as we see this year. Also, ask RG3's knee what it thinks of the read option. Sounds course, but early in games, I would tell my edge defender to not even play the RB and just drill the star QB in the numbers a few times in a row-see how much they keep running it.
Kaep's peers in terms of throwing only are? Better or worse than Cam?
Cam is a great comparison just as a passer in terms of pure ability...and they have tons. CK is right at the top. Behind Flacco and AR, but that might be about it.
No questions this week, just a comment. Was great going back and forth between my TV and my PC (left laptop at the office) Saturday with you, JH, BW during that game. Thanks for making an entertaining game even more enjoyable.
Cool! Glad you enjoyed it! What Les is talking abot is the Cover it Live chats I host with some other great ESPN guys. I will be doing both games of course this weekend as well. You all should stop by!
I think CK reminds me of a right-handed Steve Young.
But so much taller/longer. Long strider who just eats up massive chunks of yardage with every stride. Longer release than Young's, but a much more powerful arm too. Haven't seen someone to truly compare CK to in my mind yet.
Of all the hires made thus far, which do you think is the best in the short term, and which is the best overall in the long run?
Reid to KC is the best short term for me-and maybe long term. Is he perfect? Far from it, but that roster isn't in bad shape. They need a QB and a WR most of all-assuming Bowe leaves. But they have the 1st overall pick and all sorts of resources to get those positions taken care of. Plus, Reid sure knows QBs. Look what he even did with guys like Detmer. Also, how much longer does Manning have? That could be KC's division for the taking in the very near future with a great draft class.
CK and Randall Cunnnigham?
Yeah, I would say that is the most obvious comparison. I remember Cunningham being actually more athletic, in terms of highlight reel plays and contorting his body.
MW, Trestman as the Bears HC. Good move, desperate move, bad move or a wait-and-see move?
I need to do more homework on him, but many people I trust have talked him up for years now. And he does have ample NFL experience. I am certainly happy that they went with an O minding Head Coach though-much needed.
I know it's been said before, but kudos to the CBS crew for getting that shot of BB glancing up from 'coachin' 'em up' to see that the Pats scored (again) and that steely non-reaction as he goes back to coaching! A picture says a 1,000 words! Thanks for chatting!
That was Awesome! Wasn't it? I know many don't like BB, but that dude is as cool as they come. That wasn't for the cameras....just who he is and says plenty about expectations in New Eng...that is just what they do. Also kudos to that coaching staff for adapting so well after losing Gronk and Woodhead, who were obviously going to be monster parts of that game plan-esp Woodhead actually.
What are the most replaceable non-special team positions on O and D? RB and MLB?
Hard to argue with those. OG ranks right up there too. That doesn't mean those positions aren't important though.
How do you see the Patriots defending T Smiths and getting pressure on Flacco- 2 areas Denver struggled?
I am picking the Pats, but what worries me most about that pick is the Pats' pass rush. Flacco might be the best deep passer in the game-and he is playing fantastic, esp in that department, right now. Plus, their OL changes have paid off in a huge way.
Joe Cocker "You Can Leave Your Hat On"....fantastic tune
Who are your MVP and OPOY/DPOY?
Peterson, Peterson, Watt
"On the Turning Away". Very underated Pink Floyd song....just sayin.
No question about it! That album is underrated
Can Flacco really put together 3 solid games in a row...2 on the road? I doubt it.
The Pats don't give up the long ball like they did when they teams met last and overall, I like their secondary MUCH more now than then-for various reasons. Also, I think BB will scheme something up to make life tough on Flacco. But...if you give this guy time to throw, he can tear up any D. And I don't see the Pats' pass rush getting home.
Reason read option won't last,RBs are expendable,QBs are not.
In a nutshell...yup....RG3...
Where does London Fletcher rank on the list of all time LBs? I don't think he's that much worse than Ray Ray, but nobody really talks about the guy outside of DC.
Great player that won't sniff the HOF, but not an all time great player. Not on the Lewis/Urlacher/Willis/Seau level for second level defenders of this generation, but of course a great player none the less.
Hey Matt, Love your writing. How long can Talib hold the fort down with the lack of a good rush esp with Chandler being injured. Talib really isn't a lock down corner. Better to put him on Boldin with a safety and Dennard on Smith?
I really like what I have seen from Dennard, but he isn't all that fast, which is a massive problem with Smith. Still, feel like they better consistently jam him at the LOS. I would keep Talib on him. Safety support over the top is key either way though. The Pats need the C Jones from the first 10 or so games of his rookie year this season instead of this guy post-injury.
RG3 did not hurt his knee running the read option.
I am aware of that, but he took an awful lot of punishment because of the read option. Just a sitution that shows that you can't consistently put these guys at such risk.
Is McCourty a Top 5 Safety?
I think he is now...yeah, that is about right
Think Zach Thomas sniffs the HOF?
Have you scouted any players on Florida yet? Sharif Floyd sure could be great as a penetrating 3tech for DAL huh? Also Matt Elam is finally a safety with great range and hitting.
A little...much more work to do, but I think you summed both up well. Elam has explosive movements that just jump off the screen-love that at Safety...kinda like Troy P. But he also seems to be a bit raw with fundamentals of the position. And I think you nailed Floyd. I like their RB at Florida as well.
Do you see Atlanta's success rushing vs Seattle as a 1 game fluke or something they can do with some success against SF?
Will be very tough. ATL was fresher than SEA and the Hawks looked like their alarm clocks didn't go off until halftime. Turner looked very good and I bet the week off helped, but it also helped to run right at Irvin instead of Clemons...Irvin got punished in the run game
Where is New Englands biggest matchup advantage when going against the Baltimore defense?
It just has to be their WRs vs. Balt's CBs...that D has played better, no doubt, but their cover men are in for a long day...including Lewis vs. Herandez/Woodhead/Vereen, which is a huge mismatch for the Pats
Do that trick they love where they split Woodhead or Vereen out wide and see who follows. If Lewis remains at MLB, which is likely, then motion Hernandez into the backfield and see if you can get Hernandez on Lewis in iso routes
Now that we have a season under our belt how would you rank the rookie qb's? I don't think there is a wrong answer.
I love all three...and actually think Tannehill will be a Franchise QB as well, but he is 4th...But who do I want going forward? VERY tough call of course, but I go: Luck, RG3 then Wilson, although I will conceded that Wilson prob had the best rookie season.
How does NE defend Anquan Boldin? Patrick Chung maybe?
Dennard is a physical slower CB (I actually thought he would be a very good FS at this point last year) who should do fine vs. Boldin
Blink 182 "Adam's Song"...loud here...one of my favs
Should the Patriots continue to use 2 TE sets with Hernandez and Hooman, or should they spread Balts D out with RBs and TE's split wide?
Well the Pats don't really have the WR depth to truly spread out the Ravens and test their secondary depth, so I think we see a lot of Hoo-Man to keep BALT in their Base D...then motion Hernandez and RBs out to get them on LBs and Pollard.
I also don't see a great answer for Welker
Weeden must have about as much chance as I do based in your answer there.
Not saying that. Those top 4 are well ahead of him and Foles for sure. But both have a chance. Chud will really help Weeden. Actually, look at my Twitter feed-I did like a 1/2 hour hit last night on ESPN Cleveland radio...you will dig it...more than I can type here. Good stuff!
What was up with Champ Bailey on Sunday? Is he done?
Not done. Thought he had a really good year...and a really bad game. Just can't run with a guy like Smith any more-few can. DEN didn't adjust and give him help either, which shocked me. And BALT didn't keep testing him late in the game, which also really shocked me. But, even when they resigned Champ a year or two ago, I thought he could make a Lott/R Woodson type move to FS at some point
What are your thoughts on "icing the kicker"?
It is kinda dumb. Gives the kicker one more warmup most of the time.
I thought you were crazy when you said you thought Kaepernick would replace Smith before the season ended. Now he may bring the team to the Superbowl. Giving credit where its due
Thanks Brother...I say a lot of stuff-and actually get a few things right from time to time. But I have been smitten with CK for quite a while...as has Harbaugh apparently.
Who do you think could be the next Alfred Morris or Doug Martin? Zac Stacy perhaps?
I don't know enough about it yet honestly, but had a good Twitter convo last night about how this RB class lacks a Richardson/Peterson/or even maybe a 1st rounder, but there looks like about 12 or more RBs that could go in Rounds 2 to 4...all shapes and sizes. Extra deep RB class.
CK is really good without a doubt, but let's not forget the GB D has made a lot of people look fantastic this year. He's not going for 183 every single game.
They lie though. Such a huge % of the time on Draft Day, esp early, you know a team is going to take position X, Y or Z. Even if the best player on the board is a WR, Arizona isn't taking him in Round 1...but they will tell you that the OT they took was the best player available.
When drafting every GM says best available player, how much more is FA geared toward finding a particular position?
Sorry! I meant to post Blueman's question...so the above answer goes with this question.
The Shins? Yay or Nay? The little I have is growing on me
What did you think of Justin Smith's performance?
He didn't stand out-good or bad. Which to me, is a positive overall. SF won the TOP battle though and the game wasn't close late, which helped.
Have you turned down the Jets' GM offer yet? Seems everyone else has. Between the coach, the nutty owner, Sanchez, and cap hell who is going to want that job?
That was another Twitter topic last night...no way would I move from this job to that one!
Did Jerry Jones not see Ware's wear and tear, moving him to DLine???
REALLY dislike the move to a Tampa 2...for that reason and esp because they just invested HUGE on man to man CBs, who now are going to be asked to play Tampa 2 and play the run? Lee and Carter will excel and Ratliff will adjust well, but overall-Bad Biz
Journy "Only the Young" to bring us home! Vision Quest!!!
15-25 mph winds for Pats/Ravens. Which team benefits or loses?
Hmmm...I know Flacco can cut that wind-he also grew up in Jersey. Won't hurt him. We also know TB handles all elememts. But I guess BALT is more of a vertical passing game where the Pats are more horizontal, so I guess it hurts the Baltimore Birdies more.
Wasn't it nice to see that Seattle remembers they Have Zach Miller on there team. He is a solid TE.
Big fan of Miller here! Get him on your fantasy team folks!
Do you see Vereen having a permanent Woodhead, Kevin Faulk role next year?
Yes, but he can handle more pounding/every down role than those two. Great complement to Ridley.
That's a wrap! Adios