Redemption for some QBs, condemnation for others

Week 2 of the preseason was important as there are many jobs hanging in the balance and, more importantly, there were individuals who needed to atone for their poor Week 1 performances.

  • Kyle Orton had a bounce back week.  He finished 18 of 26 with 182 yards and guided the Broncos’ offense down the field for 2 scores.  He was on the verge of a third when Jabar Gaffney dropped a TD pass in the back of the end zone. On the next play, Orton threw an ill-advised, left-handed interception on fourth-and-goal. That put a damper on the night, but Orton showed he has a grasp of the offense.
  • The Colts offensive line found their sea legs. QB Peyton Manning was sack three times in six plays during the first week. Manning was sacked only once  against the Eagles this week and showed why he is one of the best players in the league.
  • Although it was against the Detroit Lions, Derek Anderson looked sharp, despite throwing a pick. He completed 8 of 13 passes for 130 yards.  The Browns looked really lethargic in Week 1, but “Mangenius” lit a fire under the Brownies.
  • Jay Cutler gave the Bears fans something to cheer about as he masterfully dissected the New York Giants with an 8 of 13, 121-yard performance that included a short touchdown pass to TE Greg Olsen.  This was a particularly impressive statement given that it came against the G-Men.

Conversely, more questions are being asked based on these preseason Week 2 performances.

  • Matthew Stafford got his first start and he looked like a lost ball in high weeds. He still has not quite adjusted to the speed of the game as evidenced by some of his throws. He’ll need to do better than 5 of 13, 34 yards and an interception to win the Lions starting quarterback job.
  • As an analyst, there’s nothing sweeter than an “I told you so”.  I actually hope that is not the case for the Bills. With all the optimism about another year for Trent Edwards and the arrival of Terrell Owens, the offensive line is poised to rain on the Bills’ parade.
  • Jason Campbell continues to struggle with the Skins. He completed just one pass in seven attempts Saturday. You have to wonder if the pressure has gotten to him.
  • One of my favorite movies is Dumb and Dumber.  In the case of the 49ers, it appears to be Worse and Worser.  That is the story of Sean Hill (Worse) and Alex Smith (Worser).  The way things are going, I would not be surprised to see rookie Nate Davis get a serious look.

Beyond the hype, Favre creates matchup nightmares

Lost in all of the “Favre Watch” hype are the basic facts of Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress’ twofold plan.

Part 1: Have a seasoned, championship-caliber quarterback get the ball to franchise running back Adrian Peterson.

Part 2: Create a paradox for opponents, because the only way to consistently stop Peterson is to put eight defenders in the box.

Consequently, that means giving a three-time NFL MVP single coverage on one side of the field. Therefore, teams will have to engage in a chess match of when to go with seven or eight defenders in the box close to the line of scrimmage. Childress now has the ability to run the ball from more three-receiver sets because teams must respect Brett Favre’s ability.

There are some who want to make this conversation about the ego of Favre. There are some who say Favre is too old, and they will point to last year as proof. Lest we forget, Favre is on the verge of breaking Jim Marshall‘s NFL record for consecutive games started by a non-kicker (Marshall’s record is 282; Favre is at 271). Don’t let that overshadow the impact Favre’s presence will have on the field.

Little known gems from preseason Week 1

  • The Detroit Lions may have stumbled on to a playmaker in Texas Christian rookie RB Aaron Brown.  Brown had six rushes for 47 yards and a rushing TD.  He also had two receptions for 51 yards and a receiving TD.  Brown has a nice burst when he runs the football; would love to see him with the first unit.
  • Rookie WR Kenny Britt was a first-round pick, but no one knows about the big target from Rutgers.  That won’t last long, though, as Britt had five receptions for 89 yards and a TD in the Titans’ win over the Bucs.
  • A local legend from Queens, WR David Clowney of the Jets was a preseason wonder last year before he got hurt.  Picking up on last year’s flashes,  Clowney had three receptions for 102 yards and a TD against the Rams.
  • All the QB talk in Raider Camp has been about the faux QB battle between JaMarcus Russell and Jeff GarciaBruce Gradkowski made his case to make the roster by completing 9-of-16 passes for 161 yards with a TD and no INTs in the Raiders’ 31-10 win over the Boys.
  • The Bills are getting dividends out of their throw away pick, CB Ellis Lankster, who was the 220th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.  Ellis had two key picks in the Bills’ 27-20 victory over the Bears.  That’s one way to get the coaches attention.

Cowboys’ Colombo tops list of NFL tough guys

5. Tom Brady (QB, Patriots) – This list is based on physical toughness and there are several players who arguably deserve this spot (Brian Dawkins comes to mind). I put Tom Terrific on this list because behind those baby blue eyes is the heart of a killer.  There is something about Brady that wants to crush his opponent.  This is the distinction I draw between him and the second best player in the league, Peyton Manning.  Manning is a perfectionist who will do whatever it takes to win.  But there is something about Brady that says, if he could play LB, he would to help the team win.

4. Ray Lewis (LB, Ravens) – In years past, Lewis would have been higher on this list. When you can intimidate a man’s man like Eddie George, you’ve done something.  Lewis’ body is a heat-seeking missile of mass destruction.  He will give his body up for the team.  But his most dangerous attribute is his intellect.  I’m reminded of Mike Singletary and the late Sam Mills who got in their opponent’s head.  I can tell you first hand that there’s nothing more demoralizing than watching the player across from you call out every one of your plays before they happen because they know your formations and tendencies.  Lewis is that kind of genius.

3. Darnell Dockett (DT, Cardinals) – Dockett is one of the emmerging young stars in the league.  He is a mean defender who seeks to create carnage.  Dockett has taken the place of Tommie Harris as that undersized DT who wreaks havoc in the backfield of his opponent. Dockett hails from FSU and is not accustomed to the anonymity of life in the dessert.  I mention this because I think it is also a driving factor for him. He knows his game will have to bring the attention he rightfully wants.

2. James Harrison (LB, Steelers) – Any man who turns down an opportunity to meet the president must have a screw or two loose.  Harrison is a little man in stature who has a chip on his shoulder the size of the Appalachian Mountains. The bigger they are, the meaner he gets.  Offensive lineman shutter when they have to face this pint sized dynamo. I’ve been told Harrison has a sense of humor but I get the impression that amusement for him might be ripping off an opponent’s fingernails with a set of rusty pliers.  Maybe that’s an overstatement.  Then again, maybe not.

1. Marc Colombo (OT, Cowboys) – Colombo is not among the most gifted athletes in the NFL. In fact, I would say he is in the lowest percentile of athleticism in the league.  But there is no doubt he’s  mean, vile, nasty, cantankerous … you get the picture.  Colombo plays with bad intentions and he wants to maul you.  Colombo has taken the spot held for a decade by Jon Runyan and, like his predecessor, gets beat from time to time. But his willingness to throw his body around is admirable.  I must confess, it was music that convinced me Colombo was No. 1 on this list.  Colombo is the lead singer of a heavy — and I mean heavy — metal band that includes other tough guys in Leonard Davis and Kyle Kosier.  Listen to the rage with which he sings.  That elevator is not going up to the top floor.

What say you?

Catch me on twitter @jamiedukes

What we learned in Week 1 of the preseason

  • Now Josh McDaniels doesn’t want to make any “knee-jerk” reactions. That was the phrase he used to characterize his decision to stay with Kyle Orton. He also had this classic coach-speak line when he said, “I feel very confident where we’re at.” Somehow, I don’t think Broncos fans are sharing that assessment.
  • I don’t know whether it was the monsoon-like rain or the stars not being aligned, but it appeared that Brodie Croyle looked like the best QB on the Chiefs on Saturday night. If this performance is an indication of things to come, it’s going to be a long year in KC.
  • The Detroit Lions are going to have a hard time taking the slow approach with Matthew Stafford. Stafford showed poise and a command of the offense. With $42 million in guaranteed money, fans have an expectation that Stafford should be on the field earning that big contract.
  • The headlines are already extolling the uneventful first game of Jay Cutler, and while he did not have a Cutler-type game there are bigger fish to fry. It’s abundantly clear the Bears are in need of not one, but two wide receivers. Devin Hester is a talent, but he lacks receiver instincts. There were several passes where Cutler and Hester just were not on the same page. Even on the ill-advised interception, a seasoned receiver would not have allowed the defender to come down with the ball.
  • Who said the Bills need Terrell Owens? Trent Edwards completed all 10 of his passes for 79 yards.
  • Maybe the ‘Skins and 49ers should have taken that shot at Michael Vick. Both teams have the defense to get them to the playoffs, but the offense leaves a lot to be desired.
  • We got our first look at Shawne Merriman, and he looks to have the standard post-surgery “Peg-Leg,” which is the phenomena of a slight limp.
  • The Colts are having growing pains without Tony Dungy. Some would say the Colts traditionally lose in the preseason and they would be right. But the Colts don’t traditionally give up three sacks in a quarter. The Colts’ offense has always been known as a finesse offense, but they have never been manhandled in the passing game. The Colts’ O-line will have to man up, or Peyton Manning is going to have a long season.
  • We always talk about the three facets of football: Offense, defense and special teams. Well, the Cleveland Browns are in need of help in all four facets. Facet No. 4 is coaching.

What say you?

Catch me on twitter @jamiedukes

Random thoughts on Vick

Some of my random thoughts about Michael Vick signing with the Eagles after watching Friday’s press conference:

  • I was particularly moved by the comments of Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. I had a dog for 15 years and know the pain of losing a pet that you love. Lurie reminded me of that mental anguish, which I have tried to quell. He also made it abundantly clear that Vick has no room for error with the Eagles. There is a clear expectation that Vick is to be more than a football player in Philadelphia.
  • My respect for Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has grown — if that’s possible — because of the part he played in Vick coming to Philadelphia. McNabb has opened Pandora’s box for the deranged faction of Eagles fans who believe he’s the problem with the team. As soon as Vick gets a first down in his Wildcat duties, the boo birds will begin to chant, “We Want Vick.” McNabb recognized his longtime friend needed a break and that getting in the way of giving Vick an opportunity was something he couldn’t bring himself to do, even though he knows controversy is just a first down away.
  • Another initial thought was confirmed when Eagles coach Andy Reid acknowledged that his sons’ travails were a mitigating factor in wanting to give Vick a second chance.
  • For those fans who oppose the Vick signing, you’re within your rights to feel that way, and you’re also within your rights to give up your season tickets. Conversely, the Eagles are within their rights to show mercy.

What say you?

Peterson would break rushing record with Vick

If I were Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (and I’m not), I would lobby to sign free agent QB Michael Vick.  Why? Because Peterson would break the NFL single-season rushing record with Vick in the backfield.  Don’t take my word for it, see the diagrams and explanations below.

The first diagram below is a stretch play to the right, with Vick at quarterback and Peterson in an off-set I formation. An offense that has Vick at the helm will lead the league in rushing.  That’s a statistical fact.  Add the best running back in the game in Peterson and you have a potential 2,500-yard season.  The impact of Vick on the running game is simple.  The backside DE and OLB on this play have to stay home to protect against Vick coming out the backdoor on a bootleg.  That means the offense gets extra blockers in the running game.

Stretch Play

Stretch Play

The second diagram shows a bootleg off the same stretch play, which also puts the defense in a bind because the key is still Peterson. There are open areas in the zone coverage, particularly on the play-action because the defense is frozen for a split second off the snap. That creates one-on-one match ups with the primary receivers — which are the TE and FB/HB — who are running angle routes away from the defenders that are dropping into coverage.

  Stretch Bootleg

Stretch Bootleg

What say you?

Catch me on twitter @jamiedukes

Moves I like, don’t like or just don’t know about

Success in the NFL for new coaches, unlike players, is dependent on many variables. For players, winning may be dependent on other variables, but it’s their talent that got them in the league. In some cases, little things can derail the success of a new head coach.

So I’ve put together a few observations from training camps to keep an eye on for some of the new coaches.

  • Detroit Lions – When Jim Schwartz was selected to take the helm of the Lions, I was a little concerned because it was not a stylistic match. The Titans ran a base 4-3 Whipya Defense, which is comprised of my front four whipping your offensive line. The Lions don’t have the personnel up front defensively to employ that strategy and hence, my concern. Based on conversations with members of the Lions organization and what we’ve seen in camp thus far, “The Schwartz” is going to be with the Lions and they will use the blitz to create pressure and stop the run.
  • Denver Broncos – In moving past the Jay Cutler situation, I’ve been interested in the possible departure of Denver’s second-best player, WR Brandon Marshall. According to reports, Marshall has been demoted on the depth chart. Injured Pro Bowl starters generally don’t get moved down the depth chart, and this seems like another petty attempt to demoralize the lone remaining natural offensive leader. By definition, natural leaders are vocal players whose game is so strong other players follow them. This latest attempt to get under the skin of Marshall surpasses another incident earlier this year. Josh McDaniels revealed to Marshall that before he would give him a new contract, he needed to get to know Marshall — which I think is totally reasonable. Marshall replied the best way to do that would be to talk man to man. Marshall intimated that given his body of work, he still felt a new contract was in order. An agitated McDaniels responded that he was having trouble getting past Marshall’s “rap sheet.” While I confess the comment was clever, the Broncos need Marshall. Like him or not, Marshall has that natural leadership dynamic — on and off the field — that players gravitate to.
  • Indianapolis ColtsJim Caldwell inherited a Rolls Royce from Tony Dungy. I love his philosophy of trying to raise the level of special teams production, which is a lost art on many teams. I don’t know what led to the departure of defensive coordinator Ron Meeks, but I feel his services have been under-appreciated league-wide, given the fact that the Colts have rightfully chosen to give the great Peyton Manning all the weapons he needs to be successful. For the Colts sake, I just hope egos were not involved in Meeks’ departure, because it’s not easy assembling a bag of leftovers into a competitive defensive unit.
  • Kansas City ChiefsTodd Haley is serving notice that there is a new sheriff in town — which is a double-edged sword. It’s important that your players know that you have a plan, and I like what I see with the Haley plan. However, I have a concern about Haley’s temperament. Forget the well-documented riff with Anquan Boldin; I have never been comfortable with the verbal spats on the sideline with Kurt Warner. There have been other incidents, which included a verbal run-in with T.O. in Dallas. Haley is a volatile coach. Players respect a coach’s consistency and will rebel against moody coaches. More importantly, players loath a coach who embarrasses them.
  • Tampa Bay BuccaneersRaheem Morris has created a buzz with his tough camp, and being physical is often an aspect of the game that can slip through the cracks. This phenomena is more indigenous to offensive coordinators who are recognized for their genius. I was disturbed by the public comments from Morris about the temperament of Kellen Winslow Jr. While there is probably merit to his assertions, making that kind of statement publicly can hurt the team in a couple of ways. K-2 is a natural leader too. He is the guy who will raise his game based on the stakes. The bigger the game, the more K-2 leads and shines.

What say you?

Catch me on twitter @jamiedukes

There is too much unrealistic optimism in Jetsville

I don’t mean to sound like the Grim Reaper, but out of respect and personal admiration for Rex Ryan, Jets fans need to temper the optimism that has gone out of control. We live in a fast food environment. I get the sense that Jets fans are being blinded by the unusual success of last year’s rookie QBs Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco.

Based on these two examples, I also know that anything is possible and there are nice pieces in place but here’s the case working against the notion of immediate success.

Exhibit I: The Jets are likely to start a rookie QB who only has 16 collegiate starts under his belt. I believe in time, Sanchez will be a good player in this league.

Exhibit II: Offensively you have Pro Bowl RB Thomas Jones and the electrifying Leon Washington. However, teams will stack the line of scrimmage and dare Sanchez or Kellen Clemens to throw to … who exactly?

Exhibit III: Making the switch to the Ravens’ style of organized chaos will not be overnight. Add the four-game suspension of LB Calvin Pace and the “D” could be off to a slow start.

Exhibit IV: LB Bart Scott is a talented football player but does he have the incredibly high football IQ of Ray Lewis? Scott gives a great soundbite but can he communicate on the fly and change the “D” as Sugar Ray has done so successfully over his Hall of Fame career?

What say you?

Catch me on twitter @jamiedukes

Teams that could be first — or third — in their division

 The Ravens will go as far as Joe Flacco takes them in 2009. (Rob Carr / Associated Press)

The Ravens will go as far as Joe Flacco takes them in 2009. (Rob Carr / Associated Press)

There are several teams that I can’t get my mind around in 2009. Fans are obviously optimistic about their team, but that’s not good enough for me. So here’s a list of teams I want to feel good about but something in my mind keeps getting in the way.

Green Bay Packers — I know the Packers were a fragile team last year, when you consider the style of play and age of their corners. Aaron Rodgers had a good statistical year throwing 28 touchdowns to arguably one of the best receiving crews in the league.

My problem with stats is the fact that with the exception of the Falcons game, when things were going bad for the Pack, Rodgers was unable to play the team back into the game. It was either a great game or blah.

Defensively, the Pack is making the transition to the 3-4 scheme. I love B.J. Raji, but we will have to see if he can develop into a Casey Hampton-type power-pig at the nose. We will also have to see how Aaron Kampman will develop as the elephant (outside pass rusher). All in all, I just don’t have a good feel for Green Bay. I could see the Packers winning the division. I could also see them finishing third.

New Orleans — I have been disappointed with the Saints for two years running after coach Sean Payton led them to the NFC Championship Game in his first season. There is more than enough blame to go around on the defensive side of the ball. I believe that Gregg Williams will finally whip that Aint’s D into shape.

I actually have more problems with the Saints offense on the road. I understand it’s tougher to play on the road, especially for dome teams, but there is too great a drop off in production offensively on the road for my liking. Like the Pack, I could see the Saints winning the division or finishing third.

Baltimore — The Ravens are an interesting team in transition. Last year, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed willed the team into the AFC title game. The Ravens on paper should be better, considering that the defense is virtually intact with the exception of the loss of Bart Scott. The question remains, though, how much of a dropoff, if any, there will be due to the loss of defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

Offensively, the Joe Flacco story was cute, but the reality is that the Ravens won in spite of him. Flacco will have to take some positive steps forward this year, because there was too much pressure placed on the defense and the running game last season. If Flacco takes those steps, I could see the Ravens possibly winning the division, but with the return of Carson Palmer, I could also see the Ravens finishing third in the AFC North.

Some teams can’t afford to pass on Vick

There are a lot of lists keeping track of teams not interested in the services of Michael Vick. I am keeping one of my own. It includes teams that have a lack of stability at quarterback and can’t afford to look past adding Vick for the sake of being politically correct.

For the record, I agree with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell when he says that playing in the NFL is not a right but a privilege. If the commissioner believes a second chance is in order for Vick, that should be good enough for any team. Remember, no commissioner in history has done more to protect the shield. Taking it a step further, there is unanimity among players and front-office personnel that Vick deserves a second chance. However, many executives don’t have the “pair” to do what they want to, fearing the wrath of the owner, fans or external groups.

Here’s the comedy of the situation. Taking an anti-Vick stand because the coach or general manager is afraid of some kind of backlash won’t prevent them from being fired. Keep in mind that 30-plus coaches have been fired over the last four years. There also has been an escalation in the frequency of bagging GMs. And the reason that most coaches and GMs are fired is because they have issues at the QB position.

Let’s be clear: I DON’T KNOW WHAT MICHAEL VICK HAS LEFT AFTER BEING AWAY FOR TWO YEARS. I’m not saying he will be the answer for any team. What I am saying is that someone will be fired, and shame on whoever is fired because he still needs a quarterback after passing on Vick.

Here’s my Vick watch list. These are the teams that I believe should entertain the idea of bringing in Vick because they have some questions at the QB position:

  • Buffalo
  • Carolina
  • Houston
  • Minnesota
  • San Francisco
  • St. Louis
  • Washington

Catch me on Twitter @jamiedukes

Spector of Vick would run Romo out of Dallas

I set Cowboys fans abuzz when I tweeted that Jerry Jones has probably entertained the idea of bringing Michael Vick to Dallas. What I tried to relay is the fact that Jerry, like many other GMs, always looks at ways to upgrade his roster.

Vick — if he could regain his old form — would be an upgrade from Jon Kitna. Vick — if he could regain his old form — also would be an upgrade over Tony Romo if the current Cowboys quarterback continues to collapse in December and January.

But for clarification for the 1000th time, entertaining the idea and doing the deal are two different concepts. All right, make it the 1001st time — entertaining the idea and doing the deal are two different concepts.

For you Cowboy fans who are holding out hope — there are many based on the tweets and e-mails I’ve received — there is no way Jerry will bring Vick in because of the fragile situation they perceive with Romo. Jerry released T.O. to take the pressure off Romo — a decision that still puzzles me to this day. But what’s done is done.

Jerry bringing in Vick and his legend “on” the field to Big D would be totally contradictory. We’ve seen the backup phenomenon repeatedly over the years whereby the No. 2 quarterback is the fan favorite. With the confluence of dynamics that is America’s Team, said phenomenon would enhance exponentially, simply because the old Vick was the most electrifying player in the league prior to his fall from grace.

And excuse me, but I have to keep repeating this for the knuckleheads: I am not saying that Michael Vick was the best quarterback in the league. Say it with me: I am not saying that Vick was the best quarterback in the league. But fans would be chanting “We want Vick” as soon as Romo pulled one of those screwball plays he is infamous for twice a game.

Here’s a few more disclaimers for those who can’t read and want to infer something that I am not saying.

  • I don’t believe Vick is ready to start for any team at the moment. He has been away for a long time.
  • I don’t think Romo would fear having Vick on the roster. Romo is a competitor and a hell of a quarterback. His major flaw is choking in December and January.

What say you?

Catch Me On Twitter @jamiedukes

Most dangerous 2008 non-playoff teams for 2009

The 49ers, Seahawks, Raiders and Bengals could prove to be formidable teams this coming season. (Associated Press)

The 49ers, Seahawks, Raiders and Bengals could prove to be formidable teams this coming season. (Associated Press)

We all know that anything can happen in the NFL, and last season, the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons were among the league’s surprise teams. With that in mind, here are the most dangerous 2008 non-playoff teams that will make noise in 2009, and some might even find their way into the postseason:

  • Cincinnati Bengals — WR Chad Ochocinco has something to prove, and so does his QB, Carson Palmer. There are a lot of whispers about the six-year veteran regaining his Pro Bowl form. On defense, Mike Zimmer has added some nice pieces in preparation for his second year as coordinator. And it goes without saying that coach Marvin Lewis’ job is on the line. His contract runs through 2010. That is something the frugal Bengals organization can swallow if things don’t go well this season.
  • Oakland Raiders –- They have a great chance to make some waves this season. However, much of that potential isn’t due to Oakland’s efforts but rather the implosion of the AFC West rival Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. Although the San Diego Chargers remain the class of the division, the Raiders should be able to sweep the Chiefs and Broncos. Everyone is under the illusion that the ball will be in the court of QB JaMarcus Russell, but nothing could be further from the truth. Oakland will run the football and play good defense. The Raiders will allow Russell to continue developing at a gingerly pace.
  • San Francisco 49ers -– Quarterback remains the biggest weakness for this team. Shaun Hill is a good custodian of the offense, but the 49ers need a real playmaker at the position to help take some of the pressure off RB Frank Gore. Too bad Eddie DeBartolo isn’t still with the organization because he would have the guts to sign Michael Vick once he is reinstated. The defense will be good, and while the offense will not be spectacular, it should be consistent.
  • Seattle Seahawks -– QB Matt Hasselbeck will have a monster season, Jim Mora has taken the helm and the defense should be improved. DE Patrick Kerney is at a pivotal point in his career and needs to step up and produce. WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh is a great addition, and I have the sneaking suspicion that WR Deion Branch finally will have the season that Seahawks fans have wanted. He can’t get hurt again, though.

What say you?

Catch me on Twitter @jamiedukes

Jets need to give Washington a new contract

Let me first give the disclaimer that I am a Florida State Seminole, as is Leon Washington.

That said, Washington has earned a new contract, and it’s imperative that the Jets get a deal done because their 2009 season will ride on the field position that the Pro Bowl returner provides.

The Jets have good pieces, but just having that and a good coach in Rex Ryan doesn’t guarantee success. A lot has to go right, and already, LB Calvin Pace will miss the first four games of the regular season because of a suspension for accidentally taking a banned over-the-counter substance.

The Jets are in a division where teams can put points on the board. If you had to rank the AFC East offenses coming into the 2009 season, the Jets would be last in a division that has Patriots QB Tom Brady coming back for revenge, WR Terrell Owens making the Bills more explosive and an even scarier “Wildcat” package for the Dolphins with the addition of rookie QB Pat White. Points will be at a premium for the Jets, given the fact that they likely will start rookie Mark Sanchez at quarterback.

Washington is one of the premier return men in the NFL and a tremendous asset to the Jets’ offense in passing situations. He has proven his worth and, more importantly, the team will need his production from the outset of the season.

What say you?

Catch me on Twitter @jamiedukes

The Wizard of Oz should give Marshall a new home

With Derrick Mason’s retirement, the onus will be on Ravens personnel wizard Ozzie Newsome to replace the wily veteran wide receiver. But the Broncos could do themselves and the Ravens a favor by trading Brandon Marshall to Baltimore.

If you think the relationship between Jay Cutler and Josh McDaniels was bad, try this one on for size. Marshall and McDaniels haven’t spoken since a June 14 minicamp.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco is at a pivotal point in his development. The guy he threw the most balls to last season just announced his intention to retire, which opens the door for a Flacco-to-Marshall pairing that could work for years to come. The Ravens are the perfect destination for Marshall because they have strong structure in the organization on and off the field. Ray Lewis arguably is the greatest leader the NFL has ever seen, and the linebacker would be a great mentor for the Pro Bowl receiver.

Needless to say, Marshall’s off-the-field issues have been a major hindrance to getting a deal done. While he has the production that would yield a first-round draft pick in a possible trade, he has no room for error. If Marshall gets a speeding ticket, he might end up with a four-game suspension from the NFL.

But at the end of the day, sometimes you have to take chances. It would be wise for Newsome to really consider making a deal for Marshall. If Newsome can get a better feel for him, the Ravens will be more than convinced that Marshall is the man for the job.

What say you?

Catch me on Twitter @jamiedukes

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