Jun 102013

Matt Flynn3. Oakland Raiders
Head Coach: Dennis Allen
2012 Record: 4-12
2012 Offense: 290 points scored, 26th in points, 18th in yards (8th passing, 28th rushing)
2012 Defense: 443 points allowed, 28th in points, 18th in yards (20th passing, 18th rushing)

Key Additions
QB Matt Flynn, DB Charles Woodson, DB Tracy Porter, S Usama Young, WR Josh Cribbs, LB Kevin Burnett, LB Nick Roach, DE Jason Hunter, CB Mike Jenkins, DT Pat Sims, DT Vance Walker, RB Rashad Jennings, P Chris Kluwe, CB DJ Hayden, T Menelik Watson

Key Losses
QB Carson Palmer, DE Richard Seymour, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, TE Brandon Myers, DL Tommy Kelly, DE Desmond Bryant, DE Dave Tollefson

Why 2013 will be better
In this case, “better” is a relative term that means the Raiders are in the process from emerging from years of irrelevance. The ever-moody Carson Palmer has been replaced by the enigmatic Matt Flynn, which will either solve the team’s quarterback needs for the next several seasons or else will result in emergence of Terrelle Pryor or Tyler Wilson. If the Raiders can get a full season out of Darren McFadden and production from their wide receivers, they could make most games tolerable for the Raiders’ faithful to watch.

Why 2013 will be worse
Matt Flynn has shown flashes, but is unproven and the Raiders might be expecting too much, especially given that Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. The defense is a patchwork of one year contracts while the Raiders absorb an ugly cap year after years of mismanagement. They’re taking care of their business in the right way, but it might well get worse before it gets better. The defensive line is still in need of serious help after last year’s second worst pass rush.

In all likelihood, Oakland is looking at a lost season as it recovers from years of cap and draft mismanagement. There is no easy fix for the problems the Raiders are facing, but once they get through the 2013 season, they are likely to emerge with a high draft pick and somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million in cap space to begin building the once proud franchise. Beyond McFadden, there are few reliable targets on offense, though Denarius Moore looks to be a potential star in the making. However, McFadden has missed 23 games in the past five seasons and could well be regarded as injury prone. The defense is a temporary patchwork with a talented secondary but a problematic front seven. As I have said before, I fully expect the Raiders to be atop the AFC West in the next three seasons if they stick to their rebuilding plan, but five or six wins represents an absolute ceiling for the 2013 Raiders.

Jan 052013

Rat's Awards ImageThis year’s crop of offensive rookies promise to reshape the futures of franchises in Indianapolis, Washington, Seattle, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay as we move toward the 2013 season. While Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were expected to compete for this award, it was the surprising Russell Wilson who took away a near certain job from Matt Flynn in Seattle and put the Seahawks on the map.

The nominees for this award included Luck, Griffin, Wilson, Matt Kalil (MIN), Doug Martin (TB), Alfred Morris (WAS), Trent Richardson (CLE), Ryan Tannehill (MIA) and Brandon Weeden (CLE).

3rd Place – Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts didn’t suffer much in the transition from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. In fact, other than a lost 2011 season and the end of the Colts’ reign in the AFC South, there seems to be little difference in the overall performance of the team, despite a rookie quarterback, a lack of a running game (still) and a change in defensive philosophy. Luck finished the season with 4374 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions while leading the Colts to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. Only Luck’s proclivity for throwing interceptions prevented him from placing higher, but Luck is clearly set as the next franchise quarterback in Indianapolis.

2nd Place – Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. The 75th pick in the 2012 draft was expected to hold the clipboard for Matt Flynn, and instead displaced Flynn and led the Seahawks to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. As the year has gone on and the coaching staff has grown more comfortable with Wilson, he has become an even greater threat, running the Read Option offense and demonstrating that he is a threat to run or throw. Wilson finished the regular season with 3118 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 489 rushing yards, and four rushing touchdowns.

Robert-Griffin-III1WINNER – Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Talk about a game changer. Robert Griffin III turned around a long-suffering franchise in the nation’s capital, leading the Redskins to a 10-6 record and the first playoff game since 2006. Although Griffin had plenty of help from Alfred Morris, it was his double barreled threat of running and passing that opened up defenses and allowed the Redskins to put together the top rushing attack in the league this season. When Griffin was hurt, fellow rookie Kirk Counsins proved his worth, insuring that momentum towards the playoffs wasn’t halted. But there is little debate that it was Griffin’s prowess that set this team on fire this season, and Griffin seemed to mature before our eyes on the field, learning the lessons that previous running quarterbacks have been unable to grasp. Griffin finished the season with 3,200 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, only five interceptions, and he ran for another 815 yards and seven touchdowns.

Aug 172012

So Week Two of the pre-season is upon us. Once again, we will post quick link results if you’d like to keep up with your favorite team’s results and video courtesy of NFL.com. This week we will see a bit more of the starting units as they prepare for the regular season, and there are still a number of interesting battles to watch across the league.

This week’s results:


Jun 052012

Last week Jim Harbaugh made some comments in regard to the courtship, or evaluation, or whatever you want to call it, of Peyton Manning by his San Francisco 49ers. The comments that Harbaugh made struck me as very un-Harbaugh like. I am as big of a fan of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching as anybody. Harbaugh and his team(s) are, and will continue to be, a force in the NFL. Maybe not in 2012, though?

Harbaugh’s recent comments to me signal that for Harbaugh and his Niners the 2011 season was quite possibly too much, too soon? I do expect the Niners to be formidable this season. However, they are not going to be formidable enough to win the NFC West. This distinction will go to the Seattle Seahawks.

Ironically, I expect the 2012 Seahawks’ season to progress very similarly to that of the 2011 Niners. The Seahawks, like the Niners did in ’11, will secure home field advantage, and this is significant when we are talking CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks playoff opponents will succumb to the CenturyLink environment, and the Seahawks and its fan base will ultimately find themselves celebrating on Bourbon Street in early February 2013.

Pete Carroll’s teams have shown flashes of brilliance in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons. However, the teams have also been inconsistent at times. I expect Carroll’s team to put it all together in 2012. The catalyst for this transformation will be Matt Flynn.

Matt Flynn, in my opinion, has the potential to become one of the top quarterbacks in the League, and I expect him to thrive in Darrell Bevell’s offense. I will go so far as to say that the Seahawk offense will resemble the offense that you saw from the 2009 Minnesota Vikings. I am not trying to compare Matt Flynn to Brett Favre. However, my point is that like he had with the ’09 Vikings, Bevell will have a more than capable quarterback to lead his offense.

Similarly, although Bevell will not have Adrian Peterson in the backfield, and Flynn will not have targets such as Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe, Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawk receiving corps will serve as an adequate supporting cast for budding superstar Matt Flynn. In fact, I like the consistent and balanced attack that receivers Ben Obamanu, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin will provide, in addition to tight ends Zach Miller and Kellen Winslow. Consequently, I will maintain that it is not far-fetched to compare the personnel at the skill positions that Bevell had to work with in 2009 to what he has today in Seattle. I am not as keen on the offensive line, but under the tutelage of Tom Cable I expect the unit to improve consistently as the year progresses.

The Seahawks defense is, in my opinion, capable, but it is not going to be recognized as one of the top defenses in the NFC. Be that as it may, we are still talking about a Pete Carroll coached team. Consequently, I do not see this Seahawks defensive unit being a liability to the overall success of the team. Further, I am one of those in the minority who liked the First Round pick of Bruce Irvin to the extent that I can see Irvin being an immediate factor. I expect Irvin to provide with his speed and athleticism some much needed pass rush for the nickel defense this fall. Irvin will be a difference maker as early as this season.

Irrespective of my opinions, I recognize there are many out there who on paper do not, and will not, recognize the Seattle Seahawks as a legitimate threat to win the Halas and Lombardi trophies. How many of you foresaw at this point last year the San Francisco 49ers as coming up a few plays short of winning those trophies? I raise this point because I see this year’s Seahawk team as being in a similar position to last year’s 49er team. The Seahawks have the advantage of being the “hunter” this season and the schedule sets up well for them in this regard.

The Seahawks open the season with a road game against divisional foe Arizona. A win in Glendale to start the season would be monumental for this team, especially given that Dallas and Green Bay come into CenturyLink on consecutive weeks including a big Monday night showdown against the Packers. If the Seahawks can pick up that crucial win in Glendale, do not be surprised if Seattle finishes the month of September with a 4-0 record given that the Seahawks wrap up the month on the road in St. Louis.

A 4-0 start is just what this team may need given that the October schedule is treacherous with Carolina on the road, New England at home, followed by road games against San Francisco and Detroit. Achieving a .500 record for the month of October would be a major accomplishment. Fortunately, the schedule in November and December is much more favorable. The Seahawks travel to Chicago in early December, a venue they have fared reasonably well as of late. Other non-divisional foes in November and December are home games against the Vikings and Jets, and road games at Miami and Buffalo.

The key for this team will be wins in the NFC West. I think it is realistic for this Seattle team to sweep the Rams and Cardinals, and split with the 49ers. If the Seahawks can accomplish these tasks within the division it will not be out of the realm of possibilities for this team to win 12 or 13 games in the regular season. That number of wins will go a long way toward securing the home field for a portion or all of the Playoffs, and we all know that CenturyLink is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL.

I have had a good feeling about this Seattle Seahawk team since their acquisition of Matt Flynn. Harbaugh’s comments last week led me to further conclude that San Francisco is not going to be the same team it was last year, and this is all the better for the 2012 Seahawks. Pete Carroll, Matt Flynn, and a 49er decline could mean some good things will be coming out of Seattle this fall. It seems like there is always a team that rises up out of nowhere every year exceeding all expectations. The Seattle Seahawks will be that team in 2012.

May 222012


Seattle Seahawks

Head Coach: Pete Carroll

Projected Starting Quarterback: Matt Flynn

2011 Record:  7 wins, 9 losses (3rd in NFC West)

No postseason appearance

28th in Total Offense, 9th in Total Defense

2002-2011 10 year record: 81 wins, 79 losses (15th in NFL)

5 win, 6 losses in postseason

0-1 in Super Bowl appearances

0-1 All-time in Super Bowl