Closing up shop… in this space

So, here’s something: In this space, starting right now, we’re shutting things down. No more blog. Sad, but true. The Rap Sheet will be no more… though feel free to go through the archives and read the classics for old time’s sake. Given TV responsibilities and some logistical issues, it just wasn’t really plausible anymore. Part of taking this job was learning about what I can do, what I can’t do, and what made sense. I ended up spending time trying to fit the blog into my schedule instead of it simply being part of my schedule. And that doesn’t lead to good things. So, I’ll still be on NFL Network’s variety of shows, as always. I’ll still be on Twitter […]

Nine really random things and whatever else is going on around the NFL…

As we do every week, let’s take a swing around the NFL, looking at a bunch of random things… So, what’s been up? 1. It would be difficult to argue that anyone is better at remaining calm and engineering comebacks than the Giants and Eli Manning. It was the case again last week against the Redskins, it was the case against the Bucs and… oh yeah, the Super Bowl last year. No one handles adversity better, which was a topic this week as the Cowboys prepared for them. Dallas CB Brandon Carr wasn’t lying when he said, “It’s going to be another 60 minute battle.” But what the G-Men want is to be able to perform before it gets all […]

Answering some key questions about the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game…

We’re just a day away from the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game at Cowboys Stadium, as Dallas hopes to earn its first win over the G-Men at their new home stadium. Oh, and all that other stuff that’s at stake in the NFC East. “I don’t have any magical secrets,” Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck said about his team’s streak in Cowboys Stadium. “But I hope it continues.” Lots of questions abound about this one. Want a quick, day-before-game run-through? Let’s get to some stuff we didn’t hit on during the week… Q: How do the Giants view Cowboys WRs, especially Dez Bryant? Answer from CB Corey Webster: “I mean, I’m not sure who’s going to show up. But, we don’t […]

Trying to make sense of the Tampa Bay Bucs… playoff contender?

It’s no secret that I’ve been high on the Bucs all season. I wrote about their sudden transformation in the summer, then picked Greg Schiano as my coach of the year candidate. But too often, they’ve earned hard-fought, tough losses instead of wins. It made them a quick team to forget about when it comes to the playoff picture. But did last night change things? Did their 36-17 beatdown of the home Vikings alter their course? Forget about being a rare road team to win on Thursday… though they are. They took down a 5-2 team in a game that wasn’t close with the nation watching in the best way. They ruined everything the Vikings were trying to do, forced Adrian […]

Examining the loss of Cowboys LB Sean Lee, a “proven difference-maker”

By now, you know that the Cowboys lost LB Sean Lee for the season. It was a crucial loss, one that hits the stellar Dallas defense right in the middle. Not only was he the team’s leading tackler (by 26 tackles!), he was also its leader. I discussed the various issues on NFL Network’s Around the League, hitting on a few things. But let’s explore here. First, the basics. SAM linebacker Bruce Carter will take over the play-calling duties previously assigned to Lee. He’s done it before, it’s not that taxing (just repeat the call in your helmet), but there is extra responsibility because of the pre-snap adjustments. “I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Carter said. It helps that Lee was […]

Rap Sheet Rankings: The Week 8 Edition

The records don’t matter much. The fact that the Cowboys shocked everyone with a win over the Giants in the opener doesn’t figure into it much, either. Nope. It’s just that, whenever the Giants and Cowboys play, it’s must-see TV. Was there any doubt this would be the No. 1 game this week in my rankings? Throw in the Cowboys on-again, off-again issues. Throw in the game-by-game heroics of Eli Manning. Throw in some essential Cowboys injuries — Sean Lee, DeMarco Murray — and you’ve got some intrigue. Oh, and did I mention the Cowboys have never beaten the Giants at their new home. Will that change this Sunday? While you’re thinking… Check out the Rap Sheet Rankings just posted […]

Analyzing the body language of Bears QB Jay Cutler and Panthers QB Cam Newton (or something)

Before we get started, that headline is a total lie. If you clicked here to read my body language analysis, stop reading and go watch CNN. I just saw a body language “expert” breaking down the presidential debate last night… which I’m sure is riveting. Is there a more ridiculous thing around? No, I’m not going to analyze body language. What I am going to analyze is facts. Like, how Bears QB Jay Cutler was destroyed by Ndamukong Suh’s side suplex, only to return one play later and lead his team to victory. And words, which are what Panthers QB Cam Newton uses after each loss. Like how Newton said, “I think you can go around the locker room and expect […]

Rap Sheet Rundown: The Week 7 Edition

Of all the things that came out of the ugly loss on Sunday by the Ravens, it’s that they have some issues that need to be fixed. Ravens coach John Harbaugh was pretty blunt with how everything should be looked at after the Texans beat them down. And as DT Haloti Ngata told me about the defense, “Right now, we’re at the bottom.” They’ve lost LB Ray Lewis, they’ve lost CB Lardarius Webb, Ed Reed has a torn labrum, and Ngata pointed out, “Today I was… I wasn’t 100 percent.” Duh. And so, Baltimore looked like the worst 5-2 team you can imagine. And yet… they are still in prime position. With the bye coming up, with some top-notch coaches, […]

Heading into the bye, the Texans have a two-game AFC lead: “It’s a great position to be in”

The Texans exited Reliant Stadium yesterday with more than a resounding victory. Though, they got that, too. They bludgeoned the Ravens 43-13, giving the home team their biggest victory ever as a franchise. It was the most points they’ve ever scored. The impression they made on the NFL was immense. “We lost to a really good Houston Texans team,” Ravens LB Terrell Suggs told me. “We didn’t lose to a team who don’t know what their identity is. We lost to a really good team today on their home field.” Yet it was more than a win. The Texans also go into their bye week with essentially a two-game lead in the AFC, and that puts them in prime position. […]

Nine really random things and whatever else is going on around the NFL…

As we do every week, let’s take a swing around the NFL, looking at a bunch of random things… 1. I spent some time in Chicago earlier in the week at the NFL’s annual Fall Meeting, and many of the topics addressed here are from the meeting. There were a bunch of issues discussed, but nothing more important happened than the introduction of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III. I know it won’t exactly affect the team’s performance on the field today — or, likely won’t — but it is noteworthy. After years of having an owner in Randy Lerner who was never around, Haslam will be the opposite. He’s moving to Cleveland. He’ll be present, his family will be present… […]

Life without Ravens LB Ray Lewis begins Sunday… it’s just weird

The Ravens will be without star LB Ray Lewis today and almost certainly for the rest of the season. If you haven’t been in a cave this week, you already know that. And, as I just mentioned on Twitter, Lewis won’t be accompanying the team to Houston. This was a topic all week, and it’ll continue to be a big-time topic all year… even if the loss of CB Lardarius Webb is probably more important between the whistles. Losing Lewis may hurt most emotionally, leaving a leadership void. I talked with Ravens LB Dannell Ellerbe on the phone this week as he prepares for his first start of the season in place of Lewis. And what he described has been […]

Chargers take the rare step of fighting back against negativity… and I like it

In this day and age in the world, everyone has a voice. It used to be that all you needed was a keyboard, but now all you really need is a phone. We all have those. Have an opinion? Make it heard. And it’s changed things. Have a player you hate? Follow them on Twitter and let them know until they block you. Or, if you’ve got a favorite team, like them on Facebook. Mid-game, if you’re upset that someone didn’t make a catch, it’s so easy just to log on and let them know they suck. One can only imagine what a player’s mentions column is like after a bad loss. We are all so quick to judge – […]

A look at the Steelers’ offense and how Todd Haley and Big Ben are getting along…

Through six weeks of the season, the Steelers are banged up, beaten up and 2-3. All, of course, is not well. That road loss to the Titans only underscored the issues. The defense is hurting, the offense hasn’t found its rhythm, they are currently looking up at the Bengals and Ravens in the AFC North. Statistically, just like actually, it has been a struggle for the offense. Even with a talented quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger and WRs like Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace, they are ranked just 17th in scoring with 23.2 points and 16th in total offense with 360 yards. In other words, mediocre. Now, there are some issues to point to as far as why the unit is […]

Rap Sheet Rankings: The Week 7 Edition

Every week, I stare at the schedule and try to make sense of what we’re about to see. I try to judge what’s the game I’m looking forward to most, then go from there. Tough one this week, though. On the field, I literally can’t wait for Seahawks-49ers. Two hard-nosed, tough-as-nails defenses against hard-core running attacks. I’ll be happy if Seattle RB Marshawn Lunchpail and San Fran LB Patrick Willis just run into each other 50 times. However… it just doesn’t have hold the gravity of the other two top games. Patriots-Jets is always intense, both off the field and on. There is some serious AFC East supremacy at stake, still. And how can you go wrong with Texans-Ravens (the […]

An unexpected use of the short-term Injured Reserve rule has emerged…

Earlier this year, the NFL passed a new rule that allowed teams to place a player on Injured Reserve but not necessarily lose him for the season. Officially, they “designate him for return,” though it’s come to be called “Short-term IR.” It’s a good rule. I like it. If a player gets hurt in Week 1 and can come back by Week 10, why would a team be forced to lose him for the season just to have his roster spot? For the Patriots in the Super Bowl last year, for instance, they could’ve used Dan Koppen, but he’d already been declared out. Yet, he was healthy. So, anyway, it’s worked out. Coaches and teams often find unexpected loopholes or uses […]

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