Ras-I Dowling expected to start

Last year, the New England Patriots drafted a strong cornerback by the name of Ras-I Dowling who was viewed as a good choice with the 33rd pick in the draft. Pro Football Weekly says that the injury-prone youngster will likely start next to Devin McCourty at corner over Kyle Arrington.

Although he did not receive any setbacks after surgery, Dowling did struggle with his health during OTAs in May. If he is healthy, which he seems to be at this point, then there is no reason why the Virginia product can’t start over Arrington.

Although Ras-I Dowling was mainly viewed as a slot corner, Arrington is more of a slot guy than the 24-year-old. Interceptions aren’t everything, but Arrington is a playmaker after leading the league with seven picks last year. He is also known for his sneaky pass rushing ability, and nickel backs are often times the most versatile players on a defense. There is a greater demand for those types of players, so this move is perfect for the Patriots schematically.

Dowling is an above-average run stopper and looks like a better pure cover corner than Arrington, who is mainly a playmaker. A Week 1 starter, injuries hurt Dowling’s rookie year and forced him to only play two games. He looks healthy now, and his size and man coverage ability play better for the Pats.

The thing about Arrington is that he is a playmaker, but he got burned too much on the outside and is, ideally, a nickel corner at this stage. Dowling can play at either, but the Patriots are impressed with his ball skills- viewed as a plus while coming out of UVA- and have correctly made the choice to start him on the outside.

Detroit Lions 2012 preview

Detroit’s Calvin Johnson had 96 receptions for 1,681 yard and 16 touchdowns in 2011.

Key additions

Everette Brown, DE (free agency)

Jacob Lacey, CB (free agency)

James Bryant, FB (free agency)

Riley Reiff, OT (draft)

Ryan Broyles, WR (draft)

Dwight Bentley, CB (draft)

Key losses

Eric Wright, CB (free agency)

After making the playoffs for the first time since 1999, there is warranted hope in Detroit for the Lions that hasn’t been present in 14 seasons.

After starting the 2011 season 5-0, the Lions finished 10-6 and secured the final wild-card spot in the NFC. However, they lost to the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round 45-28.

The Lions started the season strong, but won just five of their last 11 games to narrowly reach the playoffs. While a playoff berth is something to celebrate for this team, I think this year’s team will make sure to avoid limping into the playoffs and, instead, shape their own destiny by finishing strong and competing for an NFC North title.

Despite the blowout loss in the playoffs, the Lions have made progress and, finally, have franchise players who can lead this team.

The biggest move off the offseason thus far for the Lions has been resigning wide receiver Calvin Johnson to an eight-year extension. Johnson had a breakout year for the Lions in 2011 as quarterback Matthew Stafford played in all 16 games.

Now that these two have a full year together under their belts, I expect more magic. With that being said, I also expect Johnson to get a lot more double and triple coverage from teams in 2012.

This means wide receivers Nate Burleson and Titus Young, among others, will need to step up and give Stafford some check-down options.

As far as the draft goes, I like most of the Lions’ picks. They picked up Iowa’s Riley Reiff, who will no doubt be replacing Jeff Backus in the near future as his career is nearing its end.

The Lions also addressed their cornerback problems drafting Louisiana-Lafayette’s Dwight Bentley and signing Jacob Lacey in free agency.

These two, along with a healthy Louis Delmas (S) and a resigned Stephen Tulloch (LB) will help the Lions move up from the 23-ranked defense they were in 2011. Giving up an average of 367.6 yards per game killed any chance this team had at being Super Bowl contenders.

We know Matthew Stafford and company are capable of putting up points, but in the circumstances when they faced a stout defense, the Lions defense could not bail out the struggling offense.

The draft pick that surprised me was Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles. The Lions have been criticized in the past for taking wide receiver after wide receiver in the draft. So what do they do with their second pick? Get a WR they do not need. My guess is Broyles is more of a developmental pick who will replace Burleson in the coming years, but I think the Lions should have used that pick to upgrade a position more in need.

The offseason has been an absolute nightmare for the Lions.

Three players have been arrested this offseason for the Lions resulting in five arrests.

Running back Mikel Leshoure and defensive tackle Nick Fairley were each arrested twice and offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath also was arrested. All arrests were for marijuana possession.

Mikel Leshoure suffers the biggest setback as he missed the entire 2011 season with a torn Achilles tendon and, now, will be suspended for the first two games of the 2012 season.

While off-the-field issues are usually a guarantee in the NFL, it’ll be benificial for the Lions if they get it out of the way before the season starts.

A young team who is just getting used to the idea of winning on a consistent basis does not need distractions, especially a rookie who has yet to see action in the NFL.

2012 prediction: Lions (12-4), win the NFC North, but lose in the NFC conference championship.

Many experts are saying the Lions can compete for a Super Bowl this year. However, I think they still are one to two years away from really becoming quality contenders. While New Orleans will be out of the playoff picture this year — especially if they can’t reach a deal with quarterback Drew Brees — the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears all are quality teams who could outmatch the Lions.

This team is on the cusp of turning the corner and being a regular contender, but the team will have to wait another year for a shot at the Super Bowl.

Buffalo Bills 2012 Preview

Key Additions

Mario Williams, DE -Free Agency

Mark Anderson, DE -Free Agency

Stephen Gilmore, DB -Draft

Cordy Glenn, OG -Draft

T.J. Graham, WR -Draft

Vince Young, QB -Free Agency

Key Departures

Demetress Bell, OG -Free Agency

Drayton Florence, DB -Released

Roscoe Parish, WR -Free Agency

The Buffalo Bills were one of the surprise teams at the beginning of last season. I like to think of the Bills season in two halves, albeit uneven halves. The first was when they started an impressive 3-0 and won four of their first five games. The second was when the Bills ended their season on a 2-9 skid, and finished 3rd in the AFC East with a record of just 6-10, just your average Bills season right? Now despite the horrific end to what seemed like a promising season, this is by far the most competitive Bills team in recent years. Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped up as a franchise QB, we think (more on that later), Stevie Johnson proved that he is a legitimate No. 1 option, Fred Jackson was an absolute beast on the ground and catching passes out of the backfield and the defense held well, before collapsing later in the season. A good start for a team that has been in the dumps for so many years.

Building on the subject of the Bills defense, it really was putrid the rest of season during that 2-9 stretch. They gave up 27.3 points a game compared to 23.4 in the first five games. One of the major contributing factors to their decrease in production was a lack of turnovers. In the first five games, the Bills forced 16 turnovers while they only forced 15 in their last 11 games! The Bills made huge plays at the start of the season, but radically dropped off. The defense being probably the biggest area of concern, more specifically a weak defensive front, the Bills went to work in the offseason. First signing former Houston Texans star, Mario Williams to a record-breaking deal for a defensive free agent and then stole former Patriots rush specialist, Mark Anderson. Then when the NFL Draft rolled around, the Bills went defense again with their first pick, snagging DB Stephen Gilmore with the 10th pick in the draft. With a new focus on getting to the QB, a stacked line of Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and Mark Anderson, the Bills look primed to enter the 2012-2013 season with one of the most improved, and frightening defenses in the NFL.

The offense is a completely different story. It was the offence that was piling up the yards and scores at the beginning of the season, posting an impressive 32.8 points a game. That mark went south quickly as Buffalo’s offense struggled the rest of the way averaging only a putrid 16.8 points in the second part of their season. This seriously needs to become more consistent. Part of the problem was Fred Jackson going down with a torn ACL injury that caused him to miss the rest of the season, in week 11. But as great as it will be to have Jackson back, he will be 31 when the season rolls around. The offense must fall on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s shoulders. “Fitzmagic” was one of the great stories at the beginning of the season, as he carved up defenses to the tune of 1223 yards, 10 touchdowns and only four interceptions in the first five games of the year. Then Fitzmagic, turned into the nightmare that was “Pickspatrick,” as he stunk up the joint throwing just 14 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. Besides extending Stevie Johnson and Fred Jackson to long-term deals, the Bills did very little to help Fitzpatrick. The only real weapon added was T.J. Graham who was picked in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft. It’s clear that the Bills are banking on Fitzpatrick returning to his early season form and leading this offense once again.

All that being said, the Bills did make the biggest splashes of the offseason and have proven that they believe they are ready to compete with the Patriots and Jets of the AFC East. Their schedule seems favorable, as only 4 teams had winning records last year. Their biggest tests will probably come at the hands of the 49ers in week five and the Patriots in weeks four and 10. I believe that the Bills will sport a record of 8-8 on the season and miss the playoffs, but this won’t come without major leaps in the progression of the team, and their key players. Keep an eye out for the Bills not just for this season, but also for many to come.

Fantasy Football: Six Players who will have Breakout Seasons

Last year it was Matthew Stafford, Marshawn Lynch, A.J Green, Rob Gronkowski who were the big breakout stars of the 2011 Fantasy Football season. For those of you that were lucky enough to draft them, you reaped the rewards, and likely had a great season. Now we head into the 2012 Fantasy Football season and the question is, “Who is going to breakout this year?”. This list will hopefully help you find some guys late in the draft who could take your team to the promise land

A healthy Jay Cutler is now reunited with his old teammate Brandon Marshall, the possibilities are endless

Jay Cutler QB, Chicago Bears:

As I look at Pre Season Rankings from some of the fantasy football “experts”, I was surprised to find Jay Cutler ranked 15th among QB’s. Yes, he only passed for 13 TD’s this year, but he also missed 6 games and had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, along with one of the worst wide receiving cores in the NFL. So what did the Bears do this offseason, well they brought in Cutlers’ former teammate Brandon Marshall and drafted South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery in the 2nd Round. The additions of Marshall and Jeffery give the Bears one of the best WR cores in the league, and give Cutler some top weapons to throw to. Just to make things even sweeter, the Bears will now look to pass the ball mere this year, and if Cutler stays healthy he can be a Top 8 QB. So here is my advice, don’t pick a QB in the first 10 Rounds. Spend those 10 picks to load up on RB’s and WR’s, because the more depth you have at those positions the better. Then when the 11th Round comes along and Jay Cutler is still on the board, take him. You will have a stacked offense with a QB who could throw for over 4,000 yards and 27 TD’s.

Michael Bush RB, Chicago Bears:

Well what do you know another Chicago Bear on this list, and no I’m not a Bears fan. We all know about how talented Matt Forte is, but here’s the thing, the Bears don’t. They promised to give him a new contract last season, and didn’t. Now he is serious about holding out, and it appears the Bears are ready for that with the addition of Michael Bush.   Even if Forte does come back later on, it now appears like this will be a shared role, and that is great news for Michael Bush. Bush stepped up when McFadden went down in Oakland and carried the ball for 977 Yards and 7 TD’s. Now Bush is in Chicago and has the chance to establish himself as the goal line back if Forte plays, and if he doesn’t, Bush would be the unquestioned starter. Rankings will have Bush going in Round 9, I think you can take him in Round 8 and still reap the rewards. Bush will finish the season, not as a Top 25 RB if Forte comes back, and Top 15 if he doesn’t, so don’t be afraid to take him.

Shonn Greene RB, New York Jets:

This might be one of my favorite sleepers this year, and I’ll tell you why. First, LT is gone and it looks like Greene will be given the chance to be the workhorse back. What makes this an even better situation for Greene is the addition of the heralded Tim Tebow. When Tebow is on the field, he will use the option game to either set himself up for a long run or set up Greene. It isn’t just about the option though, the addition of Tebow signals that the Jets are committed to the running game. Now that Greene will have the chance to do this by himself, I think he will shine. Greene had 1,054 yards last year but only 6 TD’s. In 2012, I expect to see that number jump to 1,100-1,200 yards and 8 TD’s. Those numbers would be good enough to be a Top 20 RB, and you could land a guy like Greene in Round 7 or 8.

Demaryius Thomas WR, Denver Broncos:

The Peyton Manning effect makes me a believer in Demaryius Thomas. Thomas is a talented WR and has the size at 6’3 235 lb. He hasn’t been as successful as the Broncos had hoped when they took him in the 1st Round 3 years ago. Thomas struggles can be accredited to 2 reasons. First, his slow recovery from the ACL injury he suffered before the draft, and secondly Tim Tebow, who won games, but didn’t help his WR’s stats in the process. Both issues are now in the past as Thomas comes into camp completely healthy, with future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as his new QB. If there is one thing we know about Manning, it’s that he loves to throw and that is great news for Thomas. I expect this to be a big year for Thomas and wouldn’t be surprised if he has over 1,000 Receiving Yards and 9 TD’s, making him a Top 20-15 WR who you can land in Round 6.

Torrey Smith WR, Baltimore Ravens:

Torrey Smith is one of the more popular sleeper picks this year, so you have to watch out for where you take him. I am a believer in Smith, he showed in the playoffs last year that he can be the No.1 WR for the Ravens. While Ray Rice continues to hold out, I believe the Ravens have plans this year to focus more on the passing attack then they did in previous years. While I don’t buy in to Flacco being an Elite QB, I do believe he is good enough to make this Ravens passing game an above average one. Flacco has the arm strength and deep accuracy to find Smith deep down the sideline, which should result in some big plays. If I had to project the numbers, I think Smith could land between 900-1,100 receiving yards with 8-9 TD’s. As for his draft value, he is one of the more popular sleeper picks this year so don’t reach for him, because if you do, you won’t maximize on his potential. He is a great selection in Round 8 or 9, but anything before that would be a reach.

Coby Fleener TE. Indianapolis Colts:

This is a situation where a talented rookie lands in the perfect spot. Coby Fleener is in the mold of a Jimmy Graham and has the potential to be the same type of player. What makes this the perfect situation is that Fleener comes into Indianapolis with no competition for the starting gig, and his Stanford teammate QB Andrew Luck will be his QB. But wait there is more, on a team that already has Reggie Wayne, who will be drawing plenty of attention, it will leave Fleener running free. Given the fact that Fleener and Luck already have their chemistry down, I expect it to be a connection we see all season. Fleener likely could be drafted in Round 12 or 13 as a No.2 TE, but I think he will surprise everyone and finish as a Top 10 TE when the season is over.

Cam Newton will not suffer from the sophomore slump

Associated Press photo

Cam Newton impressed everyone in 2011 by breaking the rookie passing record with 4,051 yards. The old record was set in 1998 by Peyton Manning (3,379).

Despite all of the controversy surrounding former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, he put up fantastic numbers as a rookie for the Carolina Panthers in 2011.

Newton threw for 4,051 yards with 21 touchdowns while completing exactly 60 percent of his passes. Only 10 quarterbacks in the league threw for more than 4,000 yards last year and Newton was one of them. Newton also ran for 706 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.

However, fantastic rookie campaigns often lead to letdowns in that player’s sophomore season. But Newton is no ordinary person.

Newton will not suffer from the sophomore slump because if he can put up those rookie numbers under a shortened offseason, then imagine what he can do with a full offseason. Remember, the NFL was in danger of being locked out in 2011, but the players and owners reached an agreement and had a shortened offseason.

Now, with one full season under his belt and a regular offseason, Newton will be more prepared than ever to come back strong in 2012.

Another reason Newton will not slump is not only is he maturing as a quarterback, but a person as well. Newton admitted he was a bad teammate last year saying:

“I was very immature, I’ll be the first one to tell you, the pouting and the moping, I kind of overdid it. I know that. I was a bad teammate. I shut off to some people who gave unbelievable effort. … That’s where I have to mature.”

It’s hard for a 23-year-old to admit when he is wrong, but give Newton credit for taking the responsibility and acting like a leader, as he should.

Newton’s touchdown to interception ratio will grow this year. He had a 1.24 ratio last year (21 TDs, 17 interceptions). I expect his interceptions to drop to 12-14 and his touchdowns to rise to about 24-25.

I also think his rushing touchdowns will drop this year. He will still have around 10-12, but as he becomes more comfortable in the pocket, he will throw the ball more, and his rushing stats will take a hit as a result.

Newton relied on receiver Steve Smith a lot last year as Smith caught seven of Newton’s 21 touchdown passes. Smith is aging, but I think he still has one good year left in him before he becomes obsolete.

Newton also has Greg Olsen, who is always a dangerous threat. Now that they have spent a year together, look for Olsen’s numbers to jump as they become more familiar with each other.

Newton is one of the most exciting players to watch, and he will not disappoint in his sophomore season.

Predicting the winner of each NFL quarterback battle

With NFL training camps starting next month, it’s time to look towards some of the kep positional battles that will take place.

The most intriguing battles will take place at quarterback, where seven teams have legitimate competitions at the position.

While each team might not make the right decision as to who will be the team’s starting quarterback for the season, I gave my best shot to project which quarterback will win each battle.

Matt Moore vs. David Garrard vs. Ryan Tannehill

The Miami Dolphins are a mess right now. On Monday they signed Chad Ochocinco, but even with him they have no chance of making the playoffs this season. With that being said, the team needs to make the most conservative choice when it comes to their starting quarterback.

Starting rookie Ryan Tannehill would only hurt his growth, as he has little to no chance to succeed with the current Dolphins receiving corp. Starting Matt Moore, a veteran game manager, is the most logical choice for Miami.

Winner: Matt Moore

Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow

This quarterback battle may be the most intriguing one to follow. Will the New York Jets go with the player that gives them to best chance to succeed (Mark Sanchez) or will they let the media drive them to give the job to the more popular player (Tim Tebow)?

The Jets certainly are vulnerable to letting the media influence their decisions, but in the end they have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs and Sanchez gives them the best chance to do so.

Winner: Mark Sanchez

Brandon Weeden vs. Colt McCoy

The Cleveland Browns shocked the majority of fans when they took Brandon Weeden with the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Reaching for Weeden with that pick showed that they have moved on from the days of Colt McCoy as the team’s starting quarterback.

Heading into training camp, this job is Weeden’s to lose.

Winner: Brandon Weeden

Matt Flynn vs. Tarvaris Jackson vs. Russell Wilson

While Tarvaris Jackson is listed as part of the Seattle Seahawks quarterback battle, there’s realistically a very small chance he wins the job. The competition is currently between two newcomers: rookie Russell Wilson and veteran Matt Flynn.

Flynn’s eye-opening performances in sparse playing opportunities with the Green Bay Packers showed that he has the potential to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. While Wilson is likely the team’s franchise quarterback moving forward, Flynn will likely win the job to start the season, although Wilson could be the team’s starter by the end of the season.

Winner: Matt Flynn

Kevin Kolb vs. John Skelton

With a talented roster, the Arizona Cardinals are just a franchise quarterback away from being playoff contenders. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, neither Kevin Kolb nor John Skelton have the talent to be franchise quarterbacks in the NFL.

With that being said, for the time being the Cardinals will start whichever quarterback gives the team the best chance to win until they find a long-term solution at quarterback. Right now, the quarterback who gives the team the best chance to win is Skelton.

Winner: John Skelton

Blaine Gabbert vs. Chad Henne

The Jacksonville Jaguars may announce to the world that they should not have selected Blaine Gabbert in the 2011 NFL Draft when they decide on the team’s starting quarterback for the 2012 season. Sure, the Jaguars are somewhat obligated to start Gabbert since he was a first round pick, but the bottom line is he won’t be the team’s starting quarterback for the next decade.

The more logical decision for the Jaguars would be to start Chad Henne in 2012 and then draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Winner: Chad Henne

Matt Hasselbeck vs. Jake Locker

It was shocking to some that in 2011, rookie quarterback Jake Locker didn’t start a single game for the Tennessee Titans. That role was the veteran Matt Hasselbeck’s, but in 2012 things will likely change.

After drafting wide receiver Kendall Wright in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, it is apparent that the Titans are starting to build their offense around Locker. With one year in the NFL under his belt, it’s time for Locker to take full control of the Titans.

Winner: Jake Locker

No new deal for Maurice Jones-Drew

If I were to ask the average football fan, “Name three players on the Jacksonville Jaguars?”, most people’s response would be, “Maurice Jones-Drew, and…ummm.” Well, if you thought things couldn’t be worse for the Jaguars, you’re wrong, because Jags’ GM Gene Smith says Jones-Drew “has expressed that he would like to renegotiate and we have expressed again that we feel he has a contract with two years left and we expect him to fulfill those obligations.”

Maurice Jones-Drew is Jacksonville’s entire offense, and without him the Jags might have had one of the worst offenses we’ve ever seen in 2011.

Last season Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing (1,606 yards). Jones-Drew has two years left on his current deal, and is scheduled to make $4.45 million this season and $4.95 million in 2013.

Maurice Jones-Drew has not reported to the Jaguars off-season workouts, including mandatory three-day minicamp that started today. The Jaguars’ stance is clear on the situation, and if Jones-Drew refuses to budge, this holdout could just be getting started.

You may think the Jaguars are crazy not to work out a contract extension with Jones-Drew, but running backs have been known to have a short shelf life in the NFL. Jones-Drew is entering his eighth season in the league, and isn’t getting any younger.

But, in defense of Jones-Drew, he has only missed three games in seven seasons, and has been one of the most consistent backs in the league.

In my “professional” opinion, I would recommend the Jaguars re-sign Jones-Drew as soon as possible. The Jaguars are already one of the most irrelevant franchises in the NFL, and not having your biggest player show up isn’t helping the team, or the fans.

As we all know, the part of Florida where the Jaguars are located is “Gator Country,” and fans in Jacksonville could care less about the Jaguars. If the organization hopes to stay in Jacksonville, it is crucial they restructure Jones-Drew’s contract. No one wants to come to a stadium to see Blaine Gabbert. Period.

The Jaguars were near the bottom in attendance last season, and are often blacked out in the Jacksonville area. The Jaguars would be making a huge mistake to let Maurice Jones-Drew get away.

Minnesota Vikings 2012 Preview – Offense

Key Departures

Visanthe Shiancoe, TE – Free Agency
Steve Hutchinson, OG – Released
Anthony Herrera, OG – Released
Jim Kleinsasser, TE – Retirement


Key Additions
Matt Kalil, OT – Draft
Jarius Wright, WR – Draft
Greg Childs, WR – Draft
Rhett Ellison, FB – Draft
Jerome Simpson, WR – Free Agency
John Carlson, TE – Free Agency
To say the least, the Minnesota Vikings were anemic last season. Defensively, they ranked 21st overall and 26th against the pass. Offensively, they weren’t much better as they ranked 18th overall and a putrid 28th through the air. One of the few bright spots on the team came in Adrian Peterson and the 4th ranked rush offense, but that bright spot was extinguished with AP’s ACL tear in Week 16.

Needless to say, the Vikings had a lot of work to do this offseason. And while they didn’t pursue many of the big name players, they certainly made an impact.

Obviously, the big news coming into last season was the quarterback position. After suffering through awful play of Donovan McNabb, the rookie Christian Ponder got his look. He certainly had his moments of brilliance (381 yards, 3 TDs vs. Denver), but also the expected rookie moments (190 yards, 1 INT in 45-7 loss at Green Bay).

Mixed in were waves of injury that initiated QB controversy. Joe Webb’s play, which was rather impressive, sparked debate as to who the future QB of the team was. The front office made it clear Ponder was their QB moving forward and pledged to build a solid team around him.

First stop this off-season was free agency. While many big names were out there that would fill needs (Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson), the Vikings aimed lower and acquired two solid targets for Ponder in former Bengal Jerome Simpson and former Seahawk John Carlson. Each were low-risk, high reward. The team invested just $2 million in Simpson for just one year and $25 million over 5 years in Carlson. Mix in a healthy Percy Harvin and a young Kyle Rudolph and the Vikings have a young, improving pass game.

However, the Vikings still had holes in the offensive line, most notably at left tackle. Luckily for the Vikings, a franchise left tackle was available with the Vikings pick in Matt Kalil. Kalil’s addition to the Vikings allowed former left tackle Charlie Johnson to move to his more natural position of guard and, overall, improve the Vikings line.

With a far easier schedule this year, the Vikings should be able to show some improvement this season offensively. With games against weak defenses like Indianapolis, St. Louis, Arizona, and Tennessee, the Vikings have reason to be optimistic about their offense.

The most surprising story out of this off-season has been Peterson’s recovery. Two weeks ago during OTA’s, just five months after surgery on to repair his torn ACL, media and on-lookers were treated to a series of races by Percy and AP up a hill, ones which AP won his fair share of. If AP keeps his vow of being ready week one, this Vikings offense takes an even bigger step forward. The longer the full offense is on the field, the more they can gel. And considering their main pieces are still young – Kalil age 22, Harvin age 24, Ponder age 24, Peterson age 27 – the Vikings have a very bright future ahead of them.

Later this week, I’ll preview the equally dismal Vikings defense from last year.

Three reasons why Matt Moore should be the starting QB for the Dolphins in 2012

As everyone already knows, the Miami Dolphins selected their quarterback of the future in Ryan Tannehill with the 8th pick in this year’s NFL Draft. And although he may have the most potential upside on the Dolphins roster, he is clearly not ready to be the “guy” this season for the Dolphins. That brings me to Matt Moore. Leaving out David Garrard, a guy who hasn’t played in the NFL for over a year, and has probably gotten to the point where he cannot be effective anymore, let’s just ask the Jacksonville Jaguars what they think about him; Matt Moore is the only quarterback with legitimate starting experience.

1. He started and produced last year without much help. (Besides Brandon Marshall)

Despite the fact that the Dolphins were simply put, god-awful, last year, they were better over the course of the last half of the season. There were a few contributors, a defense that found its form and Reggie Bush living up to his potential, even if it is for just one season. But perhaps the biggest reason was the emergence of Matt Moore as a legitimate quarterback for the first time since his days with the Carolina Panthers in 2009-2010. His numbers, although not mind-blowing, were quite good for a QB who only had one legitimate WR threat. He threw for 2,497 yards, 16 TDs and only 9 INTs in just 12 games started. Even though I will admit that Matt Moore would not start on a contending team, he is a very serviceable stopgap between now and the future that is inevitably Ryan Tannehill.

2. Ryan Tannehill is far too inexperienced to even think he’s ready now

Speaking out of my own opinion, I very much dislike Ryan Tannehill. He is a very risky prospect who showed us very little as it is in the college game at Texas A&M. The fact is, Ryan Tannehill only started less than two years as a quarterback, that’s just 20 games! He’s a great athletic specimen, but that athleticism can’t carry you in the NFL, unless you are a special athlete (Cam Newton, Michael Vick etc.). Let’s look at his numbers at Texas A&M. 3,744 yards, 29 TDs and 15 INTs in his senior year. These numbers aren’t great, or bad, which is why it was so mind-blowing that the Dolphins and a few other NFL franchises believed he was a first-round prospect, let alone top ten. In my opinion, his inexperience and lack of great numbers need to prevent him from starting for at least this year.

3. Matt Moore is already plugged in as the starter, why change things so suddenly?

This should be the biggest reason. Matt Moore has been around for the longest time in Miami, even if it is only one year. He’s built up at least somewhat of a chemistry with his weapons such as Reggie Bush and Anthony Fasano, and his experience should put him over the top. My opinion on Tannehill was stated in the last argument, but if the Dolphins believe that he is their future, then that is all they need. However, why rush things so quickly? Most people know that Tannehill is a project QB, at least two years to get him accustomed to the NFL game. He is not on the level of RG3 or Andrew Luck, so why should he be forced into the same situation as them? Ryan Tannehill may end up becoming a very good player, but right now, Matt Moore is clearly more talented, and more experienced. There is no reason why he shouldn’t be the starter for the 2012 Miami Dolphins.

Three Destinations Chad Ochocinco Could Land

On Thursday the New England Patriots released six-time Pro Bowl receiver, Chad Ochocinco. Ochocinco, 34, played in 15 games in his only season with the Patriots, catching 15 passes for 276 yards.

Ochocinco confirmed his release on Twitter, saying, “Thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play for the `Patriot’ organization… fans were … wicked awesome, I wish all of you the best.”

Here are three teams that could pursue Ochocinco:

1. Baltimore Ravens

Many Ravens fans have dismissed the idea of signing Ochocinco, but Baltimore’s receiving corp is less than great, and filled with young players. Ochocinco would provide veteran leadership, and guidance for the younger players. Besides benefiting the receivers, Ochocinco would provide a consistent target for quarterback Joe Flacco. Ochocinco possesses great hands, and runs arguably the best routes in the NFL.

2. Miami Dolphins

Another possible destination for Ochocinco could be in Miami. Ochocinco is from Miami, and resides there in the off-season. Just like the Ravens, Ochocinco could provide leadership for a young team with a rookie quarterback. But, unlike the Ravens, Ochocinco would be by far the Dolphins best receiver, and would provide Ryan Tannehill a solid first option at wide-out.

3. Houston Texans

You might not think the Houston Texans would need another receiver to free up Andre Johnson, but Johnson has had some health issues the past couple of years, and adding a possession receiver like Ochocinco could free-up Johnson. Opposing defenses would have to plan for two different types of receivers. Having Ochocinco working 10-15 yards over the middle would help limit the double coverage over the top on Johnson. If the Texans were to add Chad Ochocinco their offense would become even more dynamic.

It’s no secret whoever gets Chad Ochocinco is going to get hard worker, and a tremendous talent. Ochocinco is going to prove once again why he’s arguably the most dynamic and entertaining player in the NFL.


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