Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

HarvinPer09.jpg

» Impact of the NFL's Kickoff Rule Change

After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?

16 May 2007

Four Downs: AFC East

by Bill Barnwell

Buffalo Bills

Draft Review

Let's review. The Bills drafted Willis McGahee with their first-round pick in 2003, right after giving Travis Henry a big extension. Without any leverage, the Bills held onto Henry for an unhappy season before dealing him to Tennessee for a third-round pick. McGahee lasted till this season, at which point he was unhappy and requested a move. The Bills traded him for two third-rounders and a seventh-rounder. Finally, the Bills used their first-rounder this year on a running back, California's Marshawn Lynch, and he might be the worst of the three. When you consider that only eight of the 20 top backs in football according to 2006 DPAR were first-round selections, you'll understand why we hesitate to approve of Buffalo's pick.

Lynch is a relatively safe bet as far as running backs go; he's an intelligent, agile runner who doesn't have to come off the field on passing downs. While he ran a 4.47 40, it's a combine time not matched by his actual speed in pads. He'll be better than Anthony Thomas, but he's not a big-play back by any means. The Bills would have been better off trading down and drafting an offensive lineman, or drafting cornerback Leon Hall to replace Nate Clements. Instead, Buffalo plugged more resources into a position they've yet to fill optimally.

Their second-round pick was a much better one. They traded one of the third-rounders from the McGahee deal to move up and draft Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny, an intelligent, instinctual linebacker who showed the ability to play in the middle toward the end of his final year at school. If his skills there are as good as reported, he will be the starter from day one, moving Angelo Crowell to the outside, where he's better suited. Or, as Crowell said on Sirius NFL Radio, "... I would kind of prefer to play on the outside just because that's what I'm used to." While Crowell will need to improve his coverage skills in 2007, he can take lessons from Keith Ellison, who will be on the other side of Posluszny and was superb in his zone coverage.

Remaining Needs

Getting Lynch pushes the Bills out of any Michael Turner discussions. Defensive tackle Darwin Walker wants a new contract and is going to hold out until he gets one; if John McCargo looks good in his return from injury, the Bills might be more hesitant to actually give Walker what he wants, although it seems silly to trade Takeo Spikes for a guy who doesn't show up. Depth at cornerback and a starting wide receiver remain on the Bills' to-do list; the only receiver left on the market who fits the bill (no pun intended) would be former 49ers wideout Antonio Bryant, who would likely be available at a bargain-basement price. Quick, before the Patriots notice!

Undrafted Free Agents

Florida wide receiver Jemalle Cornelius should really make the team over Peerless Price; Cornelius is small (5-foot-10), but he's a football player with great instincts and legitimate speed who will be a useful special teams guy somewhere. He might have a career similar to...

Miami Dolphins

Draft Review

Ted Ginn Jr., the guy who Miami chose ninth overall in the shock of the draft. Ginn represents the biggest controversy of the draft, having been selected in lieu of Brady Quinn, who seems like the quarterback the Dolphins have been waiting for. The good news is that our quarterback projection system says that second-round quarterback John Beck, out of BYU, will be almost as good of a player as Quinn is -- and he'll be that player earlier, since Beck is turning 26 in August. The bad news is that we don't hold out much hope for Ginn to be much of a player on the pro level.

Nine receivers have been drafted out of the Big Ten in the first round since 2000. Of those nine, Ginn's numbers coming out of school are comparable to his fellow Buckeyes -- Santonio Holmes (who averaged nearly five yards more per catch) and Michael Jenkins (who's been a bust with Michael Vick in Atlanta). His numbers are better than Bryant Johnson, who has also been mediocre for Arizona. Players like David "The Bomb D" Terrell and Charles Rogers outproduced Ginn by a large margin and were colossal failures in the NFL. The argument can be made that that college production in the Big Ten has little to do with NFL success.

Looking at Ginn's measurables, though, doesn't offer up much hope. Ginn's listed weight is 178 pounds; no one smaller than that from 1999 on has become anything more than a competent wide receiver at the NFL level, and even those guys (Dennis Northcutt and Todd Pinkston) wouldn't be worth first-round selections. The guy who Dolphins fans would like Ginn to be similar to, Washington's Santana Moss, weighed 180 pounds, but he also outstripped Ginn in other ways.

Ginn's vaunted 4.28 40 time is the centerpiece of his case as a first-rounder. While he didn't actually run the 40 at the combine, he was faster than Moss's 4.31. In fact, Ginn's numbers are eerily similar to that of another recent wideout. They ran the same exact 40 time and are the same height; our mystery receiver is three pounds heavier, has a vertical jump one inch higher, and outjumped Ginn by a foot on the broad jump. That receiver? Houston's Jerome Mathis, who the Texans selected in the fourth round in 2005. Mathis was a Pro Bowl kick returner his rookie year but is unlikely to pay many dividends in the passing game. With Ginn's struggles to break through press coverage and run the limited routes he was expected to in college, it looks like Miami used the ninth overall pick on a return specialist.

Remaining Needs

Hawaii center Samson Satele in the second round was an excellent pick, giving the Dolphins a guy who can play either center or guard; unfortunately, they could use both, which is why there's talk of acquiring disgruntled Jets guard Pete Kendall. It would be a smart move, with the Dolphins currently penciling in the untested Dan Stevenson as their starting right guard.

Undrafted Free Agents

It's hard not to wish good things on a man named Tuff Harris; the Montana corner will fight Howard's Geoffrey Pope (can you imagine a Tuff Pope?) for a reserve cornerback spot. A guy likely to make the team is former Alabama-Birmingham offensive tackle Julius Wilson, a monster stone that vaunted offensive line guru Hudson Houck will undoubtedly make one of his targets for shining. Wide receiver Michael Malone also was picked up from San Houston State; Malone is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Moses Malone, not the namesake and former "One Life to Live" writer. Just clarifying.

New England Patriots

Draft Review

While the Patriots would have loved to make the same trade the Cowboys did with the Browns, they made a similar swap in dealing the second of their two first-round selections for the 49ers first round pick next year, which will almost assuredly be before number 28. The Patriots also received a fourth-round pick in the deal, which they then used to acquire Randy Moss the following day, a deal already discussed on our blog.

Without second- and third-round picks, the Patriots' only trip up to the podium on Day One netted them Miami safety Brandon Meriweather, who is the sort of intelligent and versatile player the Patriots like to acquire and employ. Talk of Meriweather's character concerns are slightly overblown, as each incident he's been involved in has involved him coming to the defense of a teammate or friend. Meriweather isn't the physical specimen that LaRon Landry is, but his football smarts are stronger, and the Patriots won't use him in roles that he can't physically handle. As soon as Patriots defensive backs start going down, expect Meriweather to enter the starting lineup and keep his spot. Fourth-round defensive tackle Kareem Brown, also of Miami, is a space occupier in the middle who will be useful when Ty Warren needs snaps off.

Remaining Needs

If the Patriots aren't the deepest team in football, they're right up there. It's hard to think of an obvious need for the team other than linebacker depth; the other concerns are all minor and dependent upon injury. If Tom Brady went down for the season, a veteran quarterback to provide insurance in the case that Matt Cassel isn't any good would be wise (and Vinny Testaverde doesn't count), while a pure runner to take some of the load off of Laurence Maroney might be a useful backup. Corey Dillon's pride has been hurt by the lack of market for him, so he might choose to go back to the Patriots a few weeks into the season.

Undrafted Free Agents

The Patriots have a tiny class of undrafted free agents, which might show how few roster spots they have available. One of the spots they do have free is at quarterback, where former Michigan and Idaho State quarterback Matt Gutierrez could stick. Gutierrez transferred from Michigan after 2005, and he's a gigantic quarterback with a fantastic arm and good football smarts, but inexperienced and slow. He's a good guy to stick on the practice squad.

New York Jets

Draft Review

While the Jets didn't fill their biggest hole (nose tackle), they should be credited for not reaching and instead moving around to shore up two other questionable positions with intelligent picks. The Jets traded up in the first round, dealing second- and fifth-round picks to go from 25 to 14 and pick Pittsburgh cornerback Darrelle Revis, who pretty much represents the polar opposite of Justin Miller. Miller will return kicks, while Revis will handle punts; Miller's an athlete who struggles with the finer points of being a cornerback, while Revis is already an excellent cornerback who would be stretched by superior athletes like the aforementioned Moss or Ginn. Having them both means Eric Mangini can use each of them in roles that fit their skill sets.

A bigger move, perhaps, was the second-round selection of Michigan middle linebacker David Harris, for whom the Jets traded a third-rounder to move up and acquire. Harris is arguably the best run defender available at linebacker in the draft; his superior instincts and run-plugging can make an immediate impact on a Jets defense desperate for a run-stopper on the second level.

Remaining Needs

A nose tackle still stands out as the most pressing concern, but the only guys still available are elder statesmen like Seth Payne and Jason Fisk. With rumors that Kendall will hold out of training camp without a new deal, the Jets have made overtures to local guard Joe Andruzzi to potentially replace Kendall if he goes elsewhere. The Jets could also use another tight end -- hey, Doug Jolley's available! Eh, maybe someone else.

Undrafted Free Agents

Maine defensive tackle Mike DeVito looked like an absolute monster when I saw him play against my alma mater of Northeastern last season; of course, he won't be up against the Huskies offensive line come training camp. In all seriousness, defensive tackle remains the Jets' biggest hole and the spot where an undrafted free agent is most likely to stick.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 16 May 2007

190 comments, Last at 22 Jul 2007, 2:03pm by sebman2112

Comments

1
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 2:32pm

Totally off topic, but I had to put it somewhere:

I got my tickets for the Giants/Miami game today!

Yes, I'm pleased.

2
by McGayTrain (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 2:50pm

Why do people criticize good present action based on bad past actions? Drafting McGahee and wasting Henry was a bad and pointless move, but getting two 3s and a 7 for McGahee (who wasn't resigning in Buffalo) was a good move. Drafting Lynch was arguably a better need-based selecting than drafting a cornerback. Both were positions of dire need, but supposedly the Tampa-2 compensates for lesser CBs. The Bills do have two very good safeties. That will help the perceived CB inadequacies.

3
by Spike (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 2:59pm

They've commented before on the downside of making bad draft decisions. Not only do you waste the first draft pick and roster space, but you must use another draft pick and roster space on the same position soon afterwards. Ideally, the Bills could circulate through need positions from year-to-year. If they keep striking out at RB, they burn through picks they could use on DBs.

4
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 3:09pm

1. This article has a patriots bias
2. I'm thinking of hopping the pond and going to the Giants/Fins came ( how do I get tickets James?)
3. Is "instinctual" really a word? I mean I know Posluzney is a heady, fan favorite, intelligent, hard working player who sacrafices for the team and doesn't have smooth hips, but is "instintual" really another word we will see for those guys?

5
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 3:17pm

Meriweather’s character concerns are slightly overblown, as each incident he’s been involved in has involved him coming to the defense of a teammate or friend. Meriweather isn’t the physical specimen that LaRon Landry is, but his football smarts are stronger, and the Patriots won’t use him in roles that he can’t physically handle.

I don't know why everyone focused on Meriweather's character concerns and glossed over the other concern - his durability. He's been injured multiple times, and one of the injuries is a repeat.

6
by perrin (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 3:24pm

From Wikipedia (FWIW):
"During the infamous Miami-FIU brawl, Meriweather was clearly seen stomping repeatedly on several Florida International players on the ground."

Just because he was in a team-wide brawl doesn't mean his actions were in defense of a friend/teammate. I don't know enough about his behavior or character to make a judgment, but I can see why one could be concerned.

7
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 3:28pm

RE: 6

Perrin, I think the point is that this wasnt an Albert Haynseworth thing where it was completely unprovoked.

This was in the middle of a large brawl.

Yeah, stomping on someone's face isnt very nice, but its a lot more understandable in his context than in Haynseworths.

8
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 3:29pm

6. They were most likely refering to Brandon Merriweather firing gunshots.

9
by Hooper (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 3:41pm

Re #1

Good for you, James! I saw the announcement of tickets being sold and immediately came here to see if you had scored some.

As far as the real topic of this thread - I just keep waiting for the Jets to finally knock down the Pats. They've been making great building moves for a while, and I've been pleased with their levelheadedness in the draft. At the very least, I worry a lot less about their picks than I do about the Broncos (who I actually care about).

10
by langsty (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:02pm

Ginn was probably the most WTF first-round pick, and I think it's still a pretty defensible selection - Miami lost their most prolific return guy in Welker, and Ginn's upside is that of a Steve Smith type receiver who brings a lot to the return game. If he can be a good special teams guy as a rookie and evolves into a starting quality receiver a couple years down the line, I think it will be looked back on as a good pick.

They were still crazy not to take Quinn tho.

11
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:07pm

"They were most likely refering to Brandon Merriweather firing gunshots."

Whats wrong with returning fire after someone shoots your roommate in the ass?

I know I'd return fire if someone was firing at me.

12
by perrin (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:11pm

RE 7:
I agree, the level of provocation and situation were completely different than with Haynseworth.

To be clear, I'm not saying people can draw all sorts of conclusions from Meriweather's actions in an unusual team-on-team brawl.

I do think there's enough difference between, say, punching someone and stomping on people on the ground that I wouldn't characterize it as "coming to the defense of a teammate."

And I can see why with this incident in mind, people could have concerns about how Meriweather acts under pressure, or when confronted, or when he maybe thinks his actions could go unnoticed.

My perspective on how much thought should be given to iffy behavior when drafting NFL players could be skewed because I'm a Bengals fan. They haven't had a lot of luck (or perhaps it's skill) with this recently. Ah well!

13
by perrin (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:13pm

Dangit, I misspelled "Haynesworth."

14
by James C (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:19pm

#1 James

My brother got ours today as well, not sure how good the seats are going to be, but it will be good to see the game and also the new stadium. I am also planning on getting out to Chicago again this season to see the Bears, so two whole football games for this James this year.

#4 If you do cross the pond, no challenging people to fights. however I believe there is a link from the nfl webpage which gives info for Giants and Dolphins fans about how to apply for tickets.

15
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:31pm

Rich Conley- The article said that the Merriweather incidents are slightly overblown as each incident came at the defense of a teammate. Perrin ( 6) spoke of the UM/FIU brawl, but I believe the author was also talking about the gun fight as well.

16
by Dean (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:33pm

The other thing with Merriweather - which is why many teams (New England, Philly) who normally avoid "bad character" guys were willing to take a chance on him - is that he was the only member of either team who publicly apologized after the brawl.

As for the gun, it was properly registered, and used to fend off an assailant. The police investigated and cleared him of any wrongdoing.

I can understand how teams with existing character issues wouldn't consider him an acceptable risk, but in the right enviornment, all signs point to Merriweathers character being only a minimal risk.

17
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:42pm

15. Chris, I mistook you your response to 6, as a response to my comment (7). My bad.

18
by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:43pm

Re 10:

However, Steve Smith was taken in the 3rd round. Where returners/project receivers are meant to be taken (maybe the 2nd after the Bears and Hester), not 9th overall.

19
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:54pm

#4

Chris, I believe 10,000 tickets go on sale in the US this week or next week. I don't know if they'll be restricted to Miami and NYG season ticket holders or not. The remaining tickets go on sale in the UK next month. The link below is to the ticketmaster website.

#14

James, I'm in the upper tier, and around one of the 40yd lines. I hope that means a good view of the whole field, including the secondary. Combine that with the Jumbotron and, fingers crossed, happy days.

20
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:55pm

#4

Chris, I believe 10,000 tickets go on sale in the US this week or next week. I don't know if they'll be restricted to Miami and NYG season ticket holders or not. The remaining tickets go on sale in the UK next month. Try www.tickemaster.com I’d provide a full ink, but it does stupid things to the page format, and when I try to post it as my website in the comment form, my post gets eaten.
#14

James, I'm in the upper tier, and around one of the 40yd lines. I hope that means a good view of the whole field, including the secondary. Combine that with the Jumbotron and, fingers crossed, happy days.

21
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:56pm

James,

The real question is this: Will NFL fans be allowed to wear their colors in a pub on gameday?

22
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:04pm

Oh Chris, one other thing. Tickets ain't cheap. My two cost a few pennies short of £150, or if you prefer, more or less $300.

23
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:05pm

#20

Yep. We're very liberal like that, and we'll be able to bet on the game too. We can't smoke though...

24
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:21pm

"With Ginn’s struggles to break through press coverage and run the limited routes he was expected to in college, it looks like Miami used the ninth overall pick on a return specialist."

First, can someone show me actual video evidence of Ginn "struggling to break through press coverage"? Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention the last three years, but I can't remember seeing that. If he really does, I'm willing to be corrected, but I'd like to see an example of it first.

Second, his route running isn't great is pretty bad, but keep in mind, the guy is really a cornerback, so it's not like he's had tons of time to perfect his technique. He's only been a WR for 3 years, while a lot of the WRs in the draft that he's compared to had 6-8 years (high school and college) to learn the position, so maybe he's still got more potential to improve in that area.

Third, he was a very highly rated cornerback coming out of high school, and has expressed a willingness and desire to play there again. This could be very useful.

Think about it, everyone seems to agree that he'll be a great return guy, so you've got that at least. And he was a talented, though raw, receiver in college, and he also did a good job running reverses and trick plays. And he was an acclaimed cornerback in high school. So, if he doesn't work out as a receiver, you can always try him out as a cornerback, and maybe, just maybe, he'd be good enough to start/play as a nickel corner in the near future. Would getting an elite return guy and a quality cornerback (and a guy that can help your offense with reverses and other trick plays) really be a waste of a 9th overall pick?

25
by CA (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:23pm

Re: 2

Drafting Lynch was arguably a better need-based selecting than drafting a cornerback. Both were positions of dire need, but supposedly the Tampa-2 compensates for lesser CBs. The Bills do have two very good safeties. That will help the perceived CB inadequacies.

Shouldn't a $49 million guard compensate for lesser RBs / help perceived RB inadequacies? If you're arguing that CBs are more fungible than RBs, even in a Tampa 2, I'm not buying it.

26
by James C (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:24pm

I know that they have rebuilt the stadium, but have they done anything about the fact that getting a drink near the stadium used to mean being handed a warm can of lager out of a stack of slabs behind a bar.

Also will their be fellows walking up and down with beer, hot drinks, hot dogs and other concessions because that doesn't happen in the UK.

Furthermore WARNING to any foreign visitors. DO NOT EAT THE PIES. REPEAT DO NOT EAT THE PIES.

27
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:26pm

#25: "Furthermore WARNING to any foreign visitors. DO NOT EAT THE PIES. REPEAT DO NOT EAT THE PIES."

Dare I ask why?

28
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:26pm

"Yeah, stomping on someone’s face isnt very nice, but its a lot more understandable in his context than in Haynseworths"

How is stomping on someone's face EVER understandable? That just screams dirtbag to me no matter what the "context" is.

29
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:28pm

4 - you can't. Pretty much. 500,000 people applied for Wembley's 90,000 total tickets inside three days of registration opening. About 2,000 are supposedly going on general sale in September, the remainder are being distributed by lottery amongst Giants/Fins season ticket holders and those 500,000.

James appears to have done rather better in the lottery than I did. I guess being a Fins fan probably helped, there was supposed to be some bias towards them.

30
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:29pm

I've seen a couple of justified face stompings.

31
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:31pm

"on a Jets defense desperate for a run-stopper on the second level."

Boy, Vilma's stock sure has dropped. Is he really that miscast in the 3-4?

32
by Andrew Cascini (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:45pm

Re: 29

Yes, it has. Horribly so. It's interesting that the Jets have not felt that NT is a more pressing need - this to me indicates that Vilma has been deemed either unworthy or probably unworthy by Mangini and Tannenbaum.

The reasoning goes like this: there's obviously something broken about the Jets' run-stop game. In the 3-4, there are two usual suspects concerning a flawed run-stop game: the linebackers and the NT. By seeing how Mangini and Tannenbaum decide to retool the team, we can get the best possible guess as to in which of these two positions the problem lies. It is therefore telling that Harris was traded up for while no moves were made to acquire DTs, especially with a possible fire-sale on them as some teams (Steelers, eg) transition away from the 3-4.

Vilma will always be appreciated but he's just out of place in the 3-4. Not terrible, just out of place.

33
by James C (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:46pm

Alex

Concessions stall pies in Britain are a risky proposition at best. If you are lucky they will only have sat under a heat lamp for a week or two. The fillings aren't to be trusted and the crust is guaranteed to be damp. The stomach cramps that ensue may be alieviated through the consumption of large quantities of beer, and an our or two on the toilet. If I were handing out advice I would stick to chips (fries).

34
by McGaytrain (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 6:01pm

RE 23: I don't think I said anything about the contract amount of a guard relating in any way to RB fungibility. If you know something about Dockery's ability, I'd love to hear it. I heard he's good at run blocking.

I am saying that Anthony Thomas is not enough; Buffalo needed someone better (though he's still replacement-level).

I'm also not saying that -- on the surface -- it looks like Buffalo needs at least one starting-caliber CB. I am saying that there's a chance they don't. It's not a foregone conclusion that McGee and Youboty aren't good enough. It's simply an unknown. Buffalo has adequate third and fourth CBs in Kiwaukee Thomas and Jabari Greer. I still would have picked up a CB, but I do trust Marv Levy. Aside from Peerless Price, he's made good decisions.

That Buffalo took a QB in the 3d round was surprising, but looking more closely, perhaps they witnessed San Diego's success with Rivers and thought they could pick up a future starter (when Losman's value inevitably increases in 2 years) on the cheap.

35
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 6:05pm

Regarding food at Wembley, I'll eat beforehand, or bring my own.

"Supporters are set to be charged £4.50 for a pie, £3.90 for a hotdog, £8 for a burger meal and £1.80 for water." For Dollar prices, please double.

And please, don't eat the pies at any price.

36
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 6:09pm

"“Supporters are set to be charged £4.50 for a pie, £3.90 for a hotdog, £8 for a burger meal and £1.80 for water.� For Dollar prices, please double.

And please, don’t eat the pies at any price."

Don't worry, I wouldn't even be able to afford them if I wanted to eat one!

37
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 6:20pm

23- So basically what your trying to say, is if Ginn sucks at WR, he will be worth it because they might be able to move him to nickel corner?

If he sucks at receiver, they just used the 9 pick ( and a lot of money) on a return man. Was Desmond Howard worth it?

It's not like receivers "learn" a lot in highschool. A lot of the highschool offenses don't even pass ( option offenses, wing T, etc., and most of the coaches aren't very good. Saying that Ginn is at a disadvantage because other players had an extra few years of WR in highschool ball is a joke.

If he does get moved to corner ( as far as we know the Dolphins don't have any plan for it), and turns into a nickel corner, it seems like a very risky proposal. Most people would agree that your trying to get more than a nickel corner and return man for the #9 pick.. especially when you have a potential franchise quarterback sitting there on the board looking right at you.

38
by Mr B (Nottingham, UK) (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 6:30pm

No email with password = no tickets.
Not happy. Guess I must try my luck when the remainder of tickets go on general release.

39
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 6:33pm

First, can someone show me actual video evidence of Ginn “struggling to break through press coverage�? Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention the last three years, but I can’t remember seeing that. If he really does, I’m willing to be corrected, but I’d like to see an example of it first.

Do you have a copy of the Texas game from 2005? That was a textbook on "here's how to beat Ted Ginn."

Texas' defensive backs say Ginn isn't physical enough at the line of scrimmage, that he easily is knocked off routes and avoids contact. If you've seen the blocks Ginn has made in the running game--especially last week against Iowa--you know being physical isn't an issue.

You can see the entire article with a search for "ted ginn texas 2005 press" which is how I found it.

Of course, given that Ginn burned them in 2006, maybe that isn't the greatest example.

40
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:05pm

#36: "23- So basically what your trying to say, is if Ginn sucks at WR, he will be worth it because they might be able to move him to nickel corner?"

Actually, I was asking, but apparently you think not. And I guess I agree. Really, I was just trying to point out that even if he doesn't work out as a receiver, he could still add good value to your team on defense, so the pick isn't as feast or famine as most people are painting it.

It's possible that he'll be an elite return man and a very good wide receiver, which would be the ideal outcome, and, IMO, well worth the 9th overall pick. It's also possible that he'll be an elite return man and a quality cornerback, which would be slightly worse, but not terrible. And if neither of those work out, then, and only then, you've spent a 9th overall pick on a return man, which is still better than nothing, but not much better. All I'm saying is that there's plenty of upside, and the risk is being exaggerated.

"If he does get moved to corner ( as far as we know the Dolphins don’t have any plan for it), and turns into a nickel corner, it seems like a very risky proposal. Most people would agree that your trying to get more than a nickel corner and return man for the #9 pick.."

Right, but they'd only try him at corner if they desperately needed help there, or if he doesn't work out at WR. So this wouldn't happen for at least a season or two, even if things work out that way. And yes, you'd want more than a nickel corner and a return man, but what if he turns into a starting cornerback? He's fast enough to cover anybody, so if he learns the technique well enough, I see no reason he couldn't be a successful cover corner. Now, the chances of that happening aren't that great, but still, they're not that awful. And remember, this is all just a contingency plan. He's still got a decent chance to live up to his draft status as a WR/PR/KR. And since every draft pick has a chance of busting, it helps to get someone who will still be able to contribute even if that happens, because, all else being equal, that player is the safer pick.

41
by langsty (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:10pm

"Was Desmond Howard worth it?"

They won the Super Bowl, didn't they?

42
by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:10pm

re: 39

I think that NE and the press are in denial about merriweather's character. If any other team had drafted him that high there would be all sorts of criticism. And justifiably so.

Stomping on someone's head during a game is bad enough. If you're going to fight, fight like a man. Cheap shots on a completely vulnerable person who can't retaliate is all I need to know about what kind of person he is.

Secondly, legal or not, the real question about the shooting is why he was in a situation in which someone was shooting his roommate to begin with. And why he felt like he needed to be armed. Obviously he was correct in thinking he needed to be armed, but the why begs the question. What happens when you add millions to someone who puts himself in these situations? Why do these players get involved with crime in the first place?
With Moss and Merriweather added to a locker room of team players feeling short-changed by management and still fuming at least a little over Branch and Samuel, I think there is a disaster waiting to happen. I think two losses in a row could result in a complete meltdown on that team. Maybe they have so much talent that my theory will never be tested, but I think there is a win or Hindenburg situation in New England right now.

43
by johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:13pm

I think the objections to Ginn are not that he doesn't have upside. It's that projects usually aren't taken in round 1. Personally I hope to see him win the 3rd down slot spot and give us some big returns. In a few years if they can add some weight he replaces Chambers. If Ginn steps on the field at all he will be one of the five best 1st round picks by the Dolphins in the last 20 years. Yes the Dolphins have drafted that well in the draft over that time.

44
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:22pm

Morganja (#41 )--

You can save yourself a lot of time by typing, "Whatever the Patriots have decided to do is wrong, wrong, WRONG! I have never gotten over the Panthers losing to them in the Superbowl, so now I hate everything about the Patriots, especially their fans," whenever you feel like commenting on the Patriots.

We get the point already.

45
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:36pm

#23

I said it before the draft (and when I thought he would be a late 1st rounder)-that a team will be better off at putting him at CB then WR. I mean if everyone thinks he cannot make it at WR-should they not just try him at the position he is probably best suited for.

46
by Oldcat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:37pm

While I won't get into the Patriots bias, I doubt that any other NFL team would have players that are not under contract counted as part of thier superior depth.

47
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:42pm

and #41

Merriweather never stomped on any heads-he was stomping on the back of player's legs who were grabbing onto his teammates.

I am not sure if that makes him a better person or not-but I think people are thinking he totally acted like Haynesworth.

and the gunfire incident-well was an attempted robbery and Merriweather was carrying his weapon that he had a legal permit for...I am not sure what else he was suppose to do-not try to get robbed?

48
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:43pm

#38: "Do you have a copy of the Texas game from 2005? That was a textbook on “here’s how to beat Ted Ginn.�"

Right, sorry, now I remember. They made him disappear in that game, outside of kick returns. I guess I was just suppressing the painful memories from that game.

Still, at the beginning of the year, he said that he'd been working to bulk up over the offseason so that he could be more physical, and claimed that he could be a possession receiver, go over the middle, etc. if needed (I was, and still am, somewhat skeptical about that possession receiver claim, not that any OC would use him in that capacity anyway) and while he's still pretty thin, he did gain around 10 pounds or so. Maybe that's all he needed, since he was able to burn the Texas defense the next time he saw them, like you said. But we'll see.

49
by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:48pm

I'm not sure why I'd have a Patriots bias if I'm a Giants fan. What players not under contract are counted as part of their superior depth?

Also, Brandon Meriweather is "instinctual" and he's not white, Chris. Sorry.

No one says Ginn doesn't have upside -- he's almost all upside. What we try to measure as performance analysts is both what that upside might be, and how likely he is to achieve it. I find it very difficult to see the latter occurring to any reasonable extent, based upon the evidence I provided. As for Ginn's inability to deal with the press, that's been my observation from seeing clips of him. A good example might be the highlight film of his on the NFL Network on-demand stuff, where in literally every highlight they show, he's untouched before the ball is in his hands. NFL corners are faster and better than college corners -- they won't need to give him a five yard cushion.

50
by Sebastian the Ibis. (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:52pm

What charachter concerns? Miami is not a nice place. It is just too bad Brandon Merriwether was not around when Brian Pata was shot in the back of the head. We'd have a shooting and a stomping. - Both completely and absolutely justified.

51
by Sebastian the Ibis. (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:55pm

Tedd Ginn = Bust. & from Ohio State WTF!!!

52
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:22pm

Maybe that’s all he needed, since he was able to burn the Texas defense the next time he saw them, like you said.

True - although the corners in the NFL will likely hit a bit harder than the Texas ones. Every week. Ginn's really a bit of an enigma, but he's got too much potential for NFL teams to pass up.

It's also important to remember that the Big Ten, outside of Ohio State and Penn State (and Michigan last year) was almost as bad as the PAC-10 in its aversion to defense, so I'm always a bit wary with the guys who've mostly put up numbers recently.

53
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:22pm

What players not under contract are counted as part of their superior depth?
Reports of Troy Brown and/or Junior Seau returning. You mentioned Testaverde and Dillon potentially returning, and you're hardly alone there. That's about it, though.

Their depth is easy to overstate, as well. They have a great D-line rotation, but it looks deep in part because they only play three down linemen at a time. They have a whole bunch of veteran wideouts, but several are old and/or injury-prone. They have lots of cornerbacks, two of whom have shown to be pretty good. They're the annual Rodney Harrison injury away from disarray at safety again, and it's far from clear that Eugene Wilson will ever get his 2004 form back.

54
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:28pm

I find it odd that we're referring to Haynesworth's stomping of Gurode as the benchmark, when just a year it was pretty much held up as the gold standard of out-of-control douchebaggery, the lowest of the low. So now we're comparing Meriweather to him and saying "not as bad." Well, Jesus, if it WAS, then we'd be calling for a suspension for his first 4 NFL games!

What's next, "not as bad as Stalin, Manson, Hitler, Saddam?" Well, that's a really good recommendation in my book.....

Also, regarding the gun incident, I wholly support his obligation to return fire in self defense or defending a friend. My only question is why was he in possession of his piece at 9 o'clock on a Sunday morning? There are a few reasons I'd say "okay, your best pal lives in a REALLY bad part of town,", but many more reasons I can imagine being a problem for me.

55
by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:32pm

Re: 43
AS soon as you get your graven image of Belichick out of your bedroom you can cast stones. I can criticize the Panthers, and I have, is there anything the Patriots could do that you wouldn't defend to the death? I mean honestly, if Belichick was found to be sacrificing babies in his basement to Zhul, you would be arguing that it is pure genius and that all the coaches would make human sacrifices but they aren't smart enough.

Really. It was well known before the draft that Merriweather had character issues. It is well documented that Moss has character issues. Is it truly unfair to raise the issue of adding bad characters to an already volatile locker room? You can argue for or against, but to claim the question is unwarranted is a bit much.

56
by Randy S. (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:33pm

53 - Maybe the place had changed since Saturday, without any warning.

57
by are-tee (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:45pm

Bill,

Re. the Jets' need for a NT - I know from your previous Four Downs that you don't think much of Dewayne Robertson. You're entitled to your opinion, but the fact is that most local commentators and, apparently, Mangini and Tannenbaum don't agree. The Jets also have their 2005 third round pick, Sione Pouha, coming off injured reserve.

And I think the consensus is that Harris is going to replace the overpaid Eric Barton, not Vilma.

58
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:51pm

#48: "No one says Ginn doesn’t have upside — he’s almost all upside. What we try to measure as performance analysts is both what that upside might be, and how likely he is to achieve it. I find it very difficult to see the latter occurring to any reasonable extent, based upon the evidence I provided."

Still, it's best to take into account all the possibilities, and weigh them appropriately. For instance, if you have a player that is somewhat less likely to bust at their position than Ginn is at WR, but this other player would be unable to contribute anything to the team if they did bust, then taking Ginn might still be a better choice.

Even if Ginn is a bust at WR, he still has a decent chance of contributing significantly in other ways. The same cannot, in general, be said of a QB, for instance. So all I'm saying is that taking Ginn isn't as dangerous as it seems. You get lots of upside, and the downside isn't as bad as it looks.

"NFL corners are faster and better than college corners — they won’t need to give him a five yard cushion."

True, but still, he did burn Leon Hall and Aaron Ross, and they were both first round picks, the second and third CBs selected in the draft, respectively. Do those two not have similar speed to most NFL CBs? I mean, at the very least, he'll be in good shape if he plays the Bengals or the Giants, right? :)

59
by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:56pm

Reports of Troy Brown and/or Junior Seau returning. You mentioned Testaverde and Dillon potentially returning, and you’re hardly alone there. That’s about it, though.

I never said Brown or Seau was returning -- did I misinterpret what you were implying? I mentioned Testaverde but never actually said anything about him returning (and don't expect him to). I also said Dillon MIGHT change his mind several weeks into the season, not that he would. Did you actually read this article?

Their depth is easy to overstate, as well. They have a great D-line rotation, but it looks deep in part because they only play three down linemen at a time.

I fail to see the logic behind this. The Jets only play three down lineman and their defensive line rotation sucks.

They have a whole bunch of veteran wideouts, but several are old and/or injury-prone.

Which is why I said they have good depth, as opposed to saying they had great top-end guys.

They have lots of cornerbacks, two of whom have shown to be pretty good. They’re the annual Rodney Harrison injury away from disarray at safety again, and it’s far from clear that Eugene Wilson will ever get his 2004 form back.

I think it's safe to say Samuel, Hobbs, and James have all proven themselves to be pretty worthwhile NFL cornerbacks. That's three, which is about 1.5 more than most NFL teams can say. As for safety, adding Meriweather means the inevitable Harrison injury doesn't kill them. It leaves them with Wilson, Meriweather, Artrell Hawkins, and James Sanders, all of whom have been at least competent (e.g. not Pat Watkins).

#53 - You're right about Haynesworth not being the line. I think it's unfair to lump the two in, but you're right to say that generally, we should be avoiding stomping altogether.

As for the piece at 9 AM, he was probably still up from the night before. If you want to argue that, well, he's what, 22? I'm 22 and I stay out till 9 AM sometimes and that doesn't make me a thug/punk/whatever word we decided to call people we don't like.

#56 - I would venture to say that most local commentators aren't really very smart. That being said, please show me articles that say Robertson's a good NT. I don't think that Mangini and Tannenbaum think that they are great at NT, but more so that a suitable one hasn't come available.

I also never said that Harris was replacing Barton -- again, please let me know if I'm misinterpreting what you are saying.

60
by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg aka Lord J Rocka aka Uncle Ja (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:57pm

Lord J Rockajoe still laughing about Spikes deal. Will work out well for Eags. Eags sure to disappoint me in end. Drown troubles naked in shower with quart of vodka in hand next January for sure. But trade work out well in reg season.

61
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 9:03pm

They’re the annual Rodney Harrison injury away from disarray at safety again, and it’s far from clear that Eugene Wilson will ever get his 2004 form back.

The Rodney Harrison situation is the reason they had to draft Meriweather early, though, so depth-wise, they're not in that bad shape there.

For me, the biggest problem with New England's depth is that a lot of it is new depth, and new depth can fade really fast if the players don't end up being what they had hoped.

62
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 9:21pm

#53: "My only question is why was he in possession of his piece at 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning? There are a few reasons I’d say “okay, your best pal lives in a REALLY bad part of town,�, but many more reasons I can imagine being a problem for me."

I don't know, I think that given that he actually had to use the gun, he could make a pretty compelling case that he was right in thinking he should carry it. Also, the fact that he had a license, etc. for the gun, and wasn't breaking any laws, makes me think this is a non-issue, characterwise.

The stomping incident, however, is a legitimate cause for concern. However, if that's the only time he's gotten in trouble for fighting/violence, and if he seems to have truly learned a lesson from it, I wouldn't be too terribly worried about his character. Concerned, but that alone would not be enough to not draft the guy.

63
by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 9:39pm

Come on, Brandon Meriweather will fit right in with Richard Seymour. The big question is: How long tilll Albert Haynesworth becomes a free agent? I'm sure the Pats will be interested.

64
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 10:41pm

Bill Barnwell (#58 )--
did I misinterpret what you were implying?
Sort of. I was implying that otherreporters/commentators were talking up Brown and Seau, and that your mention of Testaverde and Dillon kinda tied them into that whole depth perception (pun intended, sad to say).

Whch is to say, I was trying to explain why the earlier commenter (Oldcat) might think there was depth attributed that was not actually present on the roster: that which you said, plus some of what other people are saying, may have led to that conclusion.

And of course I didn't read the article -- when the Belichick shrine in my bedroom speaks to me, I must obey and comment what it says.
I think it’s safe to say Samuel, Hobbs, and James have all proven themselves to be pretty worthwhile NFL cornerbacks.
I would say (Samuel + Hobbs +James) addds up to two good corners. Samuel might hold out, Hobbs tends to draw long interference penalties, and James may or may not do well in New England even though he did fine elsewhere (see Starks, Duane).
Their depth is easy to overstate, as well. They have a great D-line rotation, but it looks deep in part because they only play three down linemen at a time.

I fail to see the logic behind this. The Jets only play three down lineman and their defensive line rotation sucks.
The Patriots have eight veterans and two rookies currently on the roster. The top four (Wilfork, Warren, Green, and Seymour) are very-good-to-excellent. Then they have a bunch of who-dats like Marquise Hill and LeKevin Smith. There'd be a problem if they had to keep four down linemen in for most downs, because one guy gets injured and another needs a breather, and suddenly half your line stinks. (In fact, they still lack a decent backup NT.) So their depth is fine for a 3-4, but not for a 4-3.

As to the Jets, their d-line rotation might suffer from square peg/round hole syndrome. Didn't Mangini switch to the 3-4 with essentially the same personnel that had been playing a 4-3 the year before?
As for safety, adding Meriweather means the inevitable Harrison injury doesn’t kill them. It leaves them with Wilson, Meriweather, Artrell Hawkins, and James Sanders, all of whom have been at least competent (e.g. not Pat Watkins)
But during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, we had excellent safety play (at least until one or both starters got injured in the superbowl, anyway). I think that safety play is more important to Belichick's defenses than most commentors realize, which also explains why he'd take a chance on Meriweather's character and injury questions.

65
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 10:50pm

A comment on Meriweather and the stomping...

In one of his first games as a Patriot, first round guard Logan Mankins was ejected for walking up to an opponent after the last play before halftime and punching him in the groin. He was apparently unprovoked (although he claimed that the opponent had been leveling cheap shots at him earlier in the game). Not that this is as bad as stomping on a prone opponent, but on the other hand, Mankins didn't have the heat of a massive brawl as an excuse.

No one talks about Mankin's character issues.

66
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 11:18pm

Re 6 & 48: Yes, instinctual is really a word. One of its meanings is "(relating to) behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level." (Webster's New Collegiate, 8th) Speaking as a biologist, and strictly speaking at that, this isn't the best use of the word. Instincts are innate, inherited, and stereotyped by species, and football is very clearly learned behavior. However, common usage has come to accept a looser connotation, so that we often hear of "football instincts," "an instinctive dislike" of something that's really just a matter of artistic or musical taste, etc. And, by the way, "instinctive" is probably a slightly better word in the Posluzny case: (again from Webster's 8th)"prompted by natural instinct or propensity;...independent of judgement or will." It seems like a less technical use.

Because I'm academically involved in biology, it bugs me to hear football skills described as "instinct," but because I'm avocationally involved in linguistics, I recognize that words often have meaningful uses outside of their strict technical definitions. And I don't really have a better word to propose, I guess "instinct" it is. I do think "instinctive" is probably preferable, however.

What's that? This is a discussion thread about FOOTBALL? Oh. Sorry. In that case, Brady Quinn is better than Eli Manning because...Oh. Sorry again.

67
by are-tee (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:06am

"I also never said that Harris was replacing Barton — again, please let me know if I’m misinterpreting what you are saying."

No, I said that Harris is replacing Barton. I was actually responding to comments # 30 & 31, which implied that maybe Harris would replace Vilma down the road.

68
by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 4:28am

Bill,
Excellent point about 9 a.m. being the end of the night rather than the start of the day for someone of that age. As a geezer and father of three preschoolers, I tend to forget what being 22 was like.

Here's a general question for everyone: Who saw the Ohio State/Winsconsin game a couple years ago (2003?) when an OSU LB straddled the Jim Sorgi after a play and throttled him? Happened to be caught on national TV. I catch only about 6 hours of NCAA FB all year and managed to see this live. Anybody know what happened to that LB? i.e. was he drafted "with character issues?"

Glad I NEVER did anything stupid when I was 20....

I'll get off Meriweather's back. That Haynesworth guy, though, I'm keeping an eye on him.

69
by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 4:31am

Never mind, I found it on wikipedia! Robert Reynolds/Jim Sorgi, October 2003 Camp Randall Stadium. Still no idea if he was a habitual goon, had a momentary brain fart, or ever made an NFL team.

70
by vanya (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 5:00am

I guess I'm missing the connection between "bad character" and "bad teammate." I don't think they're necessarily synonyms. It could well be that Meriweather has impulse control problems, maybe you wouldn't want your sister to date him, but why would that necessarily make him a cancer in the clubhouse? Same with Moss - as long as no one thinks he's getting special consideration from the coach and he's performing on the field, are the other players really going to get upset if the guy smokes some pot in his spare time? Where is there any evidence that moral behavior translates into better football skills or a better locker room? It would be nice if that were the case, but the 1970s-80s Raiders certainly used to be succesful using players who were basically criminals.

71
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 8:49am

In all seriousness, you think that an undrafted d-tackle will get significant playing time? Is there any precedent for this, because you would think that guys with NFL d-tackle bodies dont come along very often... and when they do you cant help but notice.

72
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 8:55am

Re: 66

In #30 I wasn't suggesting that Harris would replace Vilma. Just pointing out that Vilma must be producing much less than than previously if the Jets can be fairly described as 'desperate for a run-stopper on the second level'. Vilma used to be (his first two years) a highly regarded run-stopper on the second level.

Re: 64

I think that's an interesting point. Mankins is described as having a 'mean streak', almost exclusively in a positive light. There seems to be a distinction between borderline/dirty play and 'character'. It seems, relatively few on field incidents between players ever get associated with character (stomping, spitting).

73
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 9:50am

Barnwell, I was joking about the Patriots bias. You write an article about 4 teams with pretty equal coverage and commentary. I was also joking about the "instinctual" comment, because I have never heard that word, and I wonder if it will be added to the Brian Finneran type players adjectives.

I'm with Morganja on this one. Not that I don't understand Merriweather in the FIU brawl, but he did attack a guy on the ground, already engaged in a fight. He swung his helmet like a weapon at a guy already engaged in a fight. If your an All American, team caption/leader, first round draft pick, you would ideally be trying to stop the violence instead of trying to get in cheap shots. I'm not saying those cheap shots make him a bad guy with severe character flaws, but I can see how he should have taken another course of action.

74
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 9:52am

Oh and I was in a similar fight situation after a football game. Basically our team against their team,with people swinging helmets and even coaches getting involved. The few guys on our team that didn't fight, were made fun of for weeks after.

75
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 9:58am

For those planning to attend the game at Wembley, I will be at the FA Cup Final there on Saturday, and so will be able to report back on the state of beer vending etc.

And yes, I too have tickets. Rock.

76
by perrin (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 10:37am

RE 69:
"Where is there any evidence that moral behavior translates into better football skills or a better locker room?"

True, but if a player's been suspended for eight or sixteen games by Roger Goodell, his football skills aren't helping the team much.

I've no idea if Goodell will make his recent grandstanding into a consistent policy (and I doubt it), but it could make a possible draftee's off-field behavior something to consider in the same way a team would research the draftee's proclivity to injury.

77
by Spalding Smails (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 11:04am

RE: 54
Is there any evidence to support that the Patriots have "an already volatile locker room"? I'm not a fan of them so I admittedly do not read every piece of Patriots' news. However, in what I have read/heard the only individual who could be termed disgruntled would be Samuel and even his comments are mild compared to those of say Lance Briggs and (IMO) not that much different from Greg Ellis' recent comments. I'm asking as this is the first place (other than Ron Borges and he just doesn't count) that I have heard that comment.

78
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 11:23am

"With Moss and Merriweather added to a locker room of team players feeling short-changed by management and still fuming at least a little over Branch and Samuel, I think there is a disaster waiting to happen."

You keep making this claim that everyone is fuming. I've seen no evidence of that.

They ALL make more money because Branch left.

Morganja, I generally respect you, but in this regard, you're being a tool. You keep making claims that the patriots are screwing their players, with absolutely no evidense to back it up.

79
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 11:25am

#68 (Where are they now?): Rob Reynolds has turned into a mediocre backup LB with the Titans. In his spare time, he likes moshing with his friend AH, going to clubs with his friend PMJ, and nuking baby seals.

My name links to his profile.

80
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 11:41am

Spalding Smails (#76 )--

The Patriots' locker room is always volatile. The team is constantly teetering on the edge of collapse, thanks to the poor decisions (and lack of class) of the organization and its coaching staff. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a hopeless homer who obviously keeps a Belichick statue in his/her bedroom. QED

/morganja

Samuel's holdout is certainly contentious, but less so than Branch's last year, and *far* less so than the Milloy situation in 2003. Everyone else who took their contract issuesto the press is already gone.

Meriweather may have character concerns, or they may be overblown. Nothing so far seems to indicate he annoys his teammates to any particular degree, though.

I suspect that the Moss acquisition will be surprisingly quiet, both in terms of on-field production and off-field distraction. The Patriots proved last year that they're quite willing to go the length of the season with essentially nobody at receiver, so they will simply cut Moss if he tries to become a problem. As for on the field, age and potential for injury would seem to put an upper limit to how much the Patriots can possibly use him.

81
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 11:42am

"In fact, they still lack a decent backup NT."

I dont know about that. I've always been impressed with Mike Wright in his limited playing time. Hes not Wilfork, but almost nobody is. I think hes more than adaquate.

82
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 11:45am

77: Rich, If I was Teddy Bruschi and I'd taken a lower offer to help the team then I would be pretty pissed that they let Branch go and wont pay Samuel. I'm not trying to start a big argument but I do think that the Pats locker room is probably less harmonious than you would expect from a side that's been so succesfull.

83
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 11:57am

I think any locker room is less harmonious than you think. Just becuase guys play on the same team, doesn't mean they are friends and one big happy family. Offenses and defenses often have rivalries.

84
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:02pm

"Rich, If I was Teddy Bruschi and I’d taken a lower offer to help the team then I would be pretty pissed that they let Branch go and wont pay Samuel."

WHY?

Letting go Branch and Samuel is what lets them sign guys like Thomas, Stallworth, Welker, etc.

Theres a friggen salary cap. Theyre not screwing anyone. If a player wants more cash than he provides value, hes gone.

People need to get it through their friggen skulls that the patriots are ALWAYS less than $1 below the salary cap at the end of the year. Theyre not stiffing anyone. The NFL wont let them spend any more money.

If the patriots were spending $28m like the brewers, you'd have a point, but they spend exactly the same as every other team in the league, so your argument makes absolutely no sense.

85
by CA (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:16pm

Re: Patriots and Moss and Meriweather:

In this new era in which Papa Goodell unilaterally suspends players for extended periods of time for off-field offenses, many teams are scared to sign or draft any player with a hint of "character issues." The demand for players with histories of off-field problems is historically low, driving down their prices. The Patriots have identified a couple players whose transgressions have been overblown and who do not pose actual heightened risks of suspension but whose price is unnaturally low due to the current overreaction among NFL teams to Goodell's actions. Essentially, the Patriots, acting as the savvy organization that they frequently have demonstrated themselves to be in recent years, are taking advantage of an arbitrage opportunity in the football labor market to bring in undervalued players. I draw a parallel to what Billy Beane and his A's did last year, bringing in cheap but good "clubhouse cancers" who led the team to a division title and the ALCS.

86
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:22pm

Karl Cuba (#81 )--

But you're not Tedy Bruschi. Bruschi has not given any indication that he's pissed.

Speculation about how you'd feel if you were him != evidence of disharmony.
I do think that the Pats locker room is probably less harmonious than you would expect from a side that’s been so succesfull.
1. Your evidence for this is...?

2. So what if they are? Remember how they hated their coach in 2003? They began the season by taking a gigantic beating from the Bledsoe-and-Milloy-led Bills. Disaster waiting to happen! Complete meltdown on that team! Hindenburg situation in New England! I mean, they only went 49-14 since then, with seven playoff and two superbowl wins for the whipped cream and cherry on top.

Maybe they need more tension in the locker room.

87
by Spalding Smails (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:28pm

RE: 84
Well played sir.

88
by Andrew Cascini (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:30pm

For those making an argument about how not choosing to spend on superstars could hurt team morale, I believe there is a point there, despite much braying and neighing to the contrary.

The bottom line is that - salary cap or no - each individual wants to make as much money as possible. While (some) NFL players are motivated additionally by team ability (as it equates to success, anyway), most are guys out to get a check like you and me.

Consistantly franchising free agency superstars will eventually send a message. It is possible that New England's success will be enough to override it, but I doubt it. There's nothing free agents hate more than getting tagged, and if players know that if they go all out and have all-pro years they won't be rewarded by the new super-massive contracts that the bigger cap allows. Why would I want to be a free agent in New England if I'm in it for the money? I wouldn't - at least, not for long - although it might be a great place to... I dunno... ressurrect a career?

Randy Moss?

89
by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:40pm

Just throw out a question since it isn't in the piece. What about DE for Miami? The team looks very thin there. Sure Taylor is a monster, but Roth was considered a disappointment his rookie year and didn't impresssive last year ever. If Taylor misses any action there isn't really any experienced back up.

90
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:42pm

70. In all seriousness, you think that an undrafted d-tackle will get significant playing time? Is there any precedent for this, because you would think that guys with NFL d-tackle bodies dont come along very often… and when they do you cant help but notice.

There are some precedents. Mike Wright, as alluded to by another poster, was an undrafted D-tackle for the Patriots who played his way past 2nd round pick Marquise Hill. In his first year he saw moderate playing time as a backup that rotated in to spell Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork, and this past year he actually started a game or two when Wilfork was injured, plus he saw significant playing time as a backup.

I'm sure you could find examples on other teams, too. I would agree that it is probably unusual, though, especially at DT.

I think people like looking for reasons, real or imagined, that the Patriots will collapse, the same way that what Joe Torre had for breakfast was news a few years ago. When a team wins consistently, they find themselves under the spotlight. That gives everyone ammunition to predict "collapse" because they see all the little things that happen every day for every team in the league. Sportswriters like to write about potential collapse becaue it makes news. Fans of the other 31 teams (inevitably a majority) like to talk about collapse because they want to see their team do better, and hence want to see the current good teams fail.

Remember all the "locker room tension" for the Colts after they lost to PIT last year, all the tension with Manning "throwing his line under the bus"? How about all the miriad of reasons why the Philadelphia press throws out every year about why the Eagles are going to be a disaster in the upcoming season?

91
by Tom Jackson (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:42pm

Re: 85 "Remember how they hated their coach in 2003?"

What? I've never heard this before. Are you certain about this?

92
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:45pm

"Consistantly franchising free agency superstars will eventually send a message. It is possible that New England’s success will be enough to override it, but I doubt it."

New England franchised Asante, and franchised Vinateri one year. How is that consistently franchising players?

Also, I really doubt that the average NFL starter feels cheated when the team lets a superstar who wants more money go. Theyre smart enough to realize that theyre not superstars, and the fact that Deion didnt get his "Reggie Wayne Money" doesnt negatively affect them in any way.

93
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:50pm

85: You are needlessly aggressive, aren't you? Or as you would have put it; "You are needlessly aggressive, aren't you.....!!!!???"

Calm down, there's no need for an aneurysm. Personally, I get the impression that more goes on under the surface of the Pats than you see. You demand evidence but do I have to remind you that the Pats are the most ruthlessly media managed team in the league, so the absence of complaints does not rule out disharmony.

Credit to you though for realising that I'm not Teddy Bruschi, good job.

94
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:54pm

91: Except that the Pats might have won the superbowl last year with Branch.

95
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:56pm

Re: 87 - "Why would I want to be a free agent in New England if I’m in it for the money?"

Given that these guys were drafted by the Pats, it seems a moot point. They don't have any choice. As for sending a message, even if the young guys on the squad buy into the sentiment you expressed, it's still in their best interest to perform at as high a level as possible. Either to get more from the Pats (hey they only get one franchise tag/year) or in FA.

96
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:58pm

"91: Except that the Pats might have won the superbowl last year with Branch."

And they might have not won the superbowl WITH him.

If they signed Branch (for what he wanted)last year, they would have had $7m less cap space this year, which is almost EXACTLY the same as they are paying for Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth AND Wes Welker.

None of this stuff happens in a vacuum.

97
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 12:59pm

There should be a name for the action of asking a random question on FO, just to see what kind of Biologist/Linguistics Expert/NASA Phrenologist pipes up with the answer.

98
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:01pm

Consistantly franchising free agency superstars will eventually send a message.

Except that New England hasn't. NE's use of the free agent tage over the last few years:

2007 - Asante Samuel (pending)
2006 - None
2005 - Adam Vinateri (played year, BIG FA contract in 2006)
2004 - None
2003 - Tebucky Jones (traded to NO, signed long term deal)
2002 - Adam Vinateri (extended 3 year deal)

2002 was the first time in club history that the Patriots had used the tag.

So the Patriots have used the franchise tag FOUR times in their club's history--twice on a kicker, once on a decent but not amazing safety, and only once on a player that could arguably be called a "superstar" (although no one was lining up to call Samuel a superstar last year). Twice it led directly to a contract extension that year (once with the Pats and once with the player being traded and signing a big contract). Once the player played out the year and ended up doing really well on the deal--Vinateri was the highest paid kicker in 2005 under the tag AND in 2006 after the Colts paid him.

The ONLY time the Pats use of the tag has led to contention is the ongoing use--Samuel--but even that "contention" is a heck of a lot quieter than that involving Walter Jones or Lance Briggs. Yet no one is talking about players not wanting to play for the Seahawks or the Bears because they "consistently franchise their stars".

People get confused because they think Branch was franchised. He wasn't. He was refusing to play out his rookie deal. And excepting Branch and Samuel, the Patriots have always either re-negotiated an extended deal (and they tried with Branch and Samuel) or let a player test free agency when he thought his value was above what the Pats were offering.

99
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:04pm

How about Nerd-Fishing? (Like the other N-word, you can use it if you are one.)

100
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:07pm

91: Except that the Pats might have won the superbowl last year with Branch.

They also might have won the SB last year if, when up by 3 facing 3rd and 4 at midfield with 2:10 or so to play and the Colts down to 1 timeout, they had called a run play up the middle instead of trying a quick slant to Troy Brown which Bob Sanders read perfectly and broke up. Or if Brady had seen Sanders and the LB's shifting outside to cover the slant routes and the DL shifting outside to blitz, had audibled to a sneak up the now vacant middle. I guess starting that Brady guy as your QB or hiring that Belichick or McDaniels guy as your coach or OC was a bad idea.

Like Rich said, nothing happens in a vacuum.

101
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:10pm

Karl Cuba (#92 )--
You demand evidence but do I have to remind you that the Pats are the most ruthlessly media managed team in the league, so the absence of complaints does not rule out disharmony.
Meh. Branch, Samuel, Daniel Graham, Ty Law, et al seem to have had no trouble expressing their dissatisfaction to the press.

If I'm needlessly aggressive, it's because I've heard this same story every single year since 2002. Try out this mad-lib template:

The Patriots should bite the bullet and sign [player] to a long-term deal. They would have won the Superbowl last year [by a larger margin] if only they had done so with [player they let go last year]. [Name of player who signed below going market rate] should be pissed they're not going all-out to win.

102
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:15pm

Just curious, do Pats still believe that, in hindsight, they were better off letting Branch go rather than giving him the contract that the Seahawks did? Even knowing how much the cap has increased over the past few years?

Not trying to argue it, just genuinely curious.

Re: 95

Is Branch really costing the Seahawks that much against the cap this year? Given that the average value of his deal was about $6 million/year, that seems unlikely.

103
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:20pm

Just curious, do Pats still believe that, in hindsight, they were better off letting Branch go rather than giving him the contract that the Seahawks did?
Once you consider that they got a first-round pick in exchange, and extended Dan Koppen's contract with the extra cap space, then yes. They were better off in 2006 with Koppen at center and Reche Caldwell as top receiver, than in 2005 with Branch at #1 and Rus Hochstein at center.

104
by Greg (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:22pm

In all seriousness, you think that an undrafted d-tackle will get significant playing time? Is there any precedent for this, because you would think that guys with NFL d-tackle bodies dont come along very often… and when they do you cant help but notice.

D-tackles who can both stuff the run and rush the passer (i.e. 300 lb. guys who are highly athletic) don't tend to go undrafted, because as you say they tend to get noticed. But guys who are undersized and rely on quickness (e.g. Brian Young, LaRoi Glover, John Randle) often do, as do big guys who aren't particularly athletic but take up space well (e.g. Hollis Thomas, Kelly Gregg, Chris Hoke, Pat Williams). Your classic 3-4 nose tackle falls under the latter category.

105
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:32pm

Re: 102

I don't recall the details of Branch's extension with the'Hawks, how much cap space did he take up last year? Would that really have precluded getting Koppen extended?

The draft choice is certainly a good thing, but to this point the Pats have (more or less) just banked it.

106
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:36pm

100: Branch, Law, Graham. All now elsewhere, does this point to an exit for Samuel too?

MJK, Rich: Nothing happens in a vacuum (apar from 99.9% of the observable universe;-)) but Branch made so many key catches for the Pats in all of their superbowl wins. I don't think it's completely unreasonable to assume that he might have hung on to one of those balls that the other recievers dropped and they probably would have beaten the Bears. Peyton would still be a choker, Brady would still be unbeatable, etc..

107
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:45pm

Re 97:
The ONLY time the Pats use of the tag has led to contention is the ongoing use–Samuel–but even that “contention� is a heck of a lot quieter than that involving Walter Jones or Lance Briggs. Yet no one is talking about players not wanting to play for the Seahawks or the Bears because they “consistently franchise their stars�.

Actually, there have been reports that different players on the Bears are pretty pissed at Briggs' treatment. There were also rumours that they were steering away FAs until Lovie got a new contract. It's all pretty interesting since this is the first time the Bears have used the Franchise Tag.

108
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:51pm

Mawbrew (#104 )--

If you're "not trying to argue it, just genuinely curious," shouldn't you not be trying to argue it? ;)
JI don’t recall the details of Branch’s extension with the’Hawks, how much cap space did he take up last year? Would that really have precluded getting Koppen extended?
They ended the season with no cap space, and didn't extend Koppen until Branch was gone. That seems the simplest explaination to me.
The draft choice is certainly a good thing, but to this point the Pats have (more or less) just banked it.
Technically, they used the Seahawks' draft choice and banked their own. Which means that they didn't have to trade up to get the guy they wanted in the first round. Seems okay to me.

109
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 1:59pm

Karl Cuba (#105 )--
100: Branch, Law, Graham. All now elsewhere, does this point to an exit for Samuel too?
Maybe. Unless it doesn't.

Law vented his issues in 2003; they kept him through 2004.

Vinatieri had contract issues in 2002; they kept him through 2005.

Seymour had issues in 2005; they extended him through 2009.

Samuel will leave, sooner or later. Eventually, everybody leaves.

110
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 2:10pm

Everybody has missed the obvious solution to the Patriots' (real or imagined) locker room problems: If a player is showing too much dissent, Belichick will just keep putting him in the game until he has so many concussions he doesn't know what's what.

111
by TED F!@#$ING GINN!? (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 2:14pm

Re 96:

In honor of who brought this idea on, I say we call it: Curmudgestion.

112
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 2:15pm

Just curious, do Pats still believe that, in hindsight, they were better off letting Branch go rather than giving him the contract that the Seahawks did?

That all depends on if they win the SB this year. :-)

I think they could have afforded Koppen's extension and Branch's contract last year, especially since Brady was willing to restructure his deal to sign Randy Moss this year. I'm sure he would have done so to keep Branch last year. However, had they done so, that probably would have resulted in no Adalius Thomas, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker, or Randy Moss this year. Whether some or all of these players work out this year and/or in years to come will directly affect how the Branch situation worked out in the long run.

That being said, I don't think even the Pats thought they were better off letting Branch go last year than they would have been keeping him. They were making the best of a bad situation after they seriously misjudged what the market value for Branch was, and also seemed to be under the impression that the cap would not go up as much as it did (remember, during most of the Branch negotiations, it looked like there might not have been a CBA extension, which would have shrunk cap space for most teams. This could have explained their reluctance to give him his money in 2006. Had that happened, the Pats would have looked like geniuses for refusing to use up their cap surplus on a very good but not HoF WR who was under contract anyway).

It seems like the Pats got into the difficult negotiation position because they were afraid that the CBA wouldn't be extended and were preparing for that contingency, and that once there they gambled that their estimated value for Branch was closer to the market value than Branch's estimation. Hence they rolled the dice and let him talk to other teams. If they had been right about the market value point, Branch would have signed their offer (or somethign close to it) and everything would have worked out. But the situation backfired, and once Branch came to an agreement with the Jets and filed his grievance, a long term deal became impossible, and all the Pats could do was trade him to SEA for a pick.

They misplayed the hand, but it wasn't stupidity from the start. They started off holding three kings and only drew two cards to start off with, but that didn't work out when the CBA was extended, and they were left betting on three kings when the house ended up having a full house. So they folded. Except that somehow in folding they ended up netting a 1st round choice.

113
by scott (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 2:16pm

Up here in New Eng, we're certainly hoping that Merriweather has learned his lesson, and won't cause much of problem. It probably helps that his behavior will be scrutinized BEFORE he starts producing, and feeling entitled. Which brings us to...

Randy "Straight cash, homey!!" Moss. Certainly, he's worth a 4th rd pick in a year where 4th rd. picks weren't very valuable. But he strikes me as the type who will NOT be happy when he catches 2 passes for 31 yards, even if the team wins, and that attitude is a no-no in the Belichick regime. Plus, his drop in production and achy legs are certainly a concern.

However, for all the euphoria this off-season has brought, the elephant in the room is still the Asante Samuel situation. Your # 1 corner is NOT the position you want to be playing by committee, and the word is that the sides are very far apart concerning his value. The Pats, like the Bears, appear to be playing poker with their franchised guy, even though the teams have most of the cards in this situation.

While Samuel appears to have little leverage, trust me when I tell you that's what we thought about Deon Branch, and he ended up never playing for us again.

114
by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 2:28pm

Mawbrew:

The better pointed question to ask is this of Pats fans: Has the Patriot front office made ANY mistake over the past 5 years? So often, it seems, the Pats fans say, "No. The FO is right, the players are greedy, and the truth will out because the Pats will continue winning."

To me the NE off-season moves have been good on an individual basis this year, but the WR moves seem strange when taking a long-term approach. Who will play WR in 2008?

Welker: $9M guaranteed over 5 years, with $5.5M bonus and $500K for 2007. Then, another $3.5M bonus option in 2008, right? So, he's going to get about $12M over 5 years. I bet he sticks.

However...

Stalworth: $3.6 M for 2007, but then a whopping $11M in 2008 if they keep him with this contract ("The Patriots would have to pay a $6 million option to keep Stallworth next February 25, then another $2 million on March 1. He will have to play extremely well for the Patriots to consider paying that in full. His second-year total pay would be $11 million under this contract, with $5 million in 2009, and $4.5 million per season in 2010-2012." USA Today)

Moss: A one-year deal for $3M. If he plays well, he's going to want the money. (And, while people can talk all they want about how he took less money to play with the Pats, the reality is that he was going to be paid zero with Oakland, as in they were going to cut him, so what he did was pick his team, the Pats, and get paid just a hair under what others like the Packers were willing to pay).

So, what will 2008 be for Tom Brady's receivers? Welker having been paid $9M in bonuses and salary over 2 years, Stallworth at $14.6M over two years, and Moss at $3M + $6 M or mor for year two? NO WAY will that happen.

So, what is going to happen in 2008? T.O.? Keyshawn?

What I am saying, is that this WR set of events does not seem to be a long-term solution.

115
by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 2:38pm

Oh, and by the way, I am a Colts fan, and I think like the Patriots, the Colts have done their fare share of winning over the last 5 years, BUT ... I think my favorite team's FO has also made some big mistakes: Simon has been a troubled situation, and Peterson or Thorton might look pretty good in a Colts uni right now. And, I wish they had signed a contract with Freeney before it got to this, the franchise tag stage.

116
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 2:39pm

"The better pointed question to ask is this of Pats fans: Has the Patriot front office made ANY mistake over the past 5 years? So often, it seems, the Pats fans say, “No. The FO is right, the players are greedy, and the truth will out because the Pats will continue winning."

Purds, I understand their are complete homer fans, but seriously, if you can find a Pats fan on here who doesnt think they've made any mistakes, I'll tip my hat to you.

Duane Starks is a good example.

The thing is, a TON of players have left NE since 2001, and I honestly can only think of ONE who I would consider a success.

Deion Branch is a perfect example: His DVOA was 19% in 2005, and dropped to -2% in 2006. Thats a pretty HUGE drop off.

Now, would he have continued to produce well in the Patriots system? Most likely. Is he worth $6-7m a year? Doesnt look like it.

117
by SJM (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 2:45pm

Re: 40 (Desmond Howard)

Yes, the Packers won a Super Bowl. But Howard was drafted by the Redskins 4th overall, never lived up to the expectations of such a high pick, and moved on after his contract ran out. The Packers were actually his 3rd team. Even with Brett Farve in his prime, Howard was useless as a receiver. If he didn't have a huge performance in the Super Bowl, people would still be talking about what a wasted pick he was, even though he was a very good returner. (In fact, many people do still talk about that.)

The point is that Ginn might be a very good player, but he might not, and he's a guy who shouldn't have been drafted before the 2nd or 3rd round.

118
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 2:55pm

Purds (#112 )--

Pats fans don't need to point out their front office mistakes. The Boston Globe has that pretty well covered, by naming every move they've made since (and including) hiring Belichick as a mistake.

As for receivers in 2008, here's who they have signed, and their salaries (source linked):
Jackson, Chad 1,095,186
Stallworth, Donte' 6,373,386
Kelley Washington 5,760,000
Wes Welker 3,731,720
Who are they keeping? Probably Jackson and Welker. It's obviously not a position they view as a cornerstone, so they'll probably settle for whatever free agents are handy that year to round out the roster.

119
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 3:00pm

Re: 107

You're right that I do have a different perspective on this (I'll share later, have to run to another meeting), but I am attempting to dig beyond the superficial. Regarding, the Pats cap flexibility last year, here's part of a blog that Aaron posted on Fox last year -

"There¹s only one problem with the Patriots¹ strategy of choosing depth over highly paid stars: They forgot to go out and actually add depth. With the Branch trade, the Patriots are now $13.8 million under the salary cap for 2006, yet they have depth problems at the same positions where they lost free agents this summer: wide receiver and linebacker."

120
by Digit (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 3:02pm

re: 111

Well, to be fair, the Patriots -believed- Branch when he said he would play out his contract, and renegotiate at end of season, prior to the draft and free agent signings.

But when the draft and free agent signing went by, Branch -really- turned on the screws, telling Jevon Walker not to stay away, and then basically turning down an NE offer similar to what he got from Seattle... because New England refused to 'tear up' that last year of the contract (Seattle did).

I think part of the thing was that NE refused to set a precedent by tearing up rookie contracts. They didn't do it for Brady, they didn't do it for Seymour, why do it for Branch?

Basically the Patriots played a pretty good hand, Branch just pulled off a better one by eliminating other options for the Patriots prior to pulling his stunt.

121
by Digit (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 3:03pm

re: 117

OTOH, they took that money and added the depth -this- year. At the time the Branch and Law situation occured, pretty much all the free agent action was over, leaving the Patriots to pick over the leftovers. Instead, they moved the cap money to this year.

So they DID add depth, but they added it a year later.

122
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 3:06pm

117

And they used that 14m to extend a whole bunch of people's contracts. The fact that the money was there at one point doesnt mean they didnt have it earmarked for something else. (koppen, light, etc, and the miriad other extensions they doled out)

123
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 3:46pm

Re 98: Me? A Nerd? If I didn't like this site so much, I'd take my Ivy League degree, my thick glasses, my Henry James novels, my Monty Python sketches, and my avocational involvement in linguistics and leave! Wait! No! OMG, it's truuuuuuuuuuuuue!!!!

124
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 3:59pm

This is the way I'm guessing 2008 works out:

The Pats will keep Welker and whichever of Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gafney that makes the roster this year (or both if they both make it). Provided that they decide Jackson isn't a complete bust, they'll hang onto him as well. That gives them a slot reciever, a possession reciever (or maybe two), and a young prospect who may or may not work out.

Then they evaluate Washington (if he makes the roster) and Stallworth after this year. If they figure either is playing as good or better than any FA they could acquire to get the same production next offseason for comparable money to the bonus money in the current contract, then they pay the bonus and keep the guy. However, they probably only do this for one of them unless the two of them turn into the greatest receiving dou of all time (which is very unlikely). If they perform OK but not up the bonus levels built into the contracts, the Pats offer them what they think is a fair extension, and it becomes up to the player to take that or try their FA luck elsewhere. So figure if either Washington or Stallworth have a good to great year, then one of them will stick around.

It is extremely unlikely that Moss will stay, unless the Pats decide they really really like him and offer him an extension mid-year.

So you have a possession reciever or two, a slot reciever/returner, and a young prospect locked up. You also have essentially what amounts to right of first refusal on two promising FA's at prenegotiated rates--so it just becomes a question of will they perform up to those rates. So the Pats have lots of options. In the unlikely case that neither Stallworth nor Washington are any good, then the Pats say goodbye and hope for something to come through in trade, the draft, or FA next year.

125
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 4:01pm

And Purds, didn't I just admit that the Pats FO screwed up on the Branch situation? They gambled and lost. It happens.

They also horribly miscalculated when they thought that Duane Starks could replace Ty Law (Ty Law was replaceable, just not with Duane Starks), or that an ILB rotation of Monty Beisel and Chad Brown was a good idea (to be fair with that one, though, Ted Johnson's retirement caught them off guard).

126
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 4:23pm

#115: "The point is that Ginn might be a very good player, but he might not, and he’s a guy who shouldn’t have been drafted before the 2nd or 3rd round."

Devin Hester was drafted in the 2nd round, and most people seem to think that he was worth it, or at least close to it, after seeing him play. If Ginn is about as good as Hester as a return man, then he would be worth a 2nd or 3rd round pick on that alone. Add in his big upside as a receiver, and I'd say he's easily worth a first rounder. Plus, he's also shown promise at cornerback, so there's a little upside there, too. I'd say that adds up to about a top ten pick.

127
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 4:41pm

Re: 111

Your POV is very close to my own. When the Branch trade was made, I was convinced the Pats did the right thing. I certainly would have done it in their position. The combination of the big increase in the salary cap, along with Branch being more difficult to replace than (at least I) expected, have changed my thinking. $6 million a year for a receiver that was producing like Branch was for the Pats seems pretty reasonable now.

I have a hard time believing the $$ wasn't there to accomplish everything else they wanted to do and sign Branch as well, but I obviously don't have access to all the financial info necessary to state that with certainty.

Most importantly, if they had kept Branch we would have all been spared the sight of Reche Caldwell's frightening glare after he botched those passes last year.

128
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 5:00pm

Most importantly, if they had kept Branch we would have all been spared the sight of Reche Caldwell’s frightening glare after he botched those passes last year.
Not to pick a nit, but Caldwell was David Givens's replacement.

Doug Gabriel was supposed to replace Branch. That didn't work out too well, either.

129
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 5:19pm

The problem was the Branch's value was greater to the Pats than it was to other teams, especially because they had just lost Givens as well. Unfortunately for the Pats, neither the Seahawks nor the Jets seemed to realize that.

130
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 5:31pm

#125: Hester was only "worth it" because he had the greatest season for a returner in NFL history. If Ginn (or Hester) can average 6 return TDs per season, they're definitely worth a first rounder. But I have a hard time picturing ANYBODY averaging more than 2-3 TDs per season on returns, so to be worth a first rounder Ginn better at least be an above average WR or CB.

131
by Independent George (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 6:44pm

Re: 25, 32, 34 - Ok, who else here is now even MORE curious than ever about these mysterious pies?

132
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 7:14pm

Beef and kidney pies...yummm. They're the only culinary reason to go to Britain, IMHO.

133
by Sifter (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 7:14pm

Those pies are probably a lot like the ones we have over here in Australia. The stereotypical fan over here will head down to the footy and grab a pie, but the thing is to make sure you are tanked before you start into the pies and then you don't really know/care what you're eating. If you believe the rumours, pretty much the worst meat available goes into pies so I must admit I've always steered clear - stadium food is so expensive anyway.

134
by Eddo (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 7:32pm

129: The thing is, can't you just envision a scenario where Hester averages 30-35 yds per KR, 10-15 yds per PR, and has 1 return TD, and yet he winds up widely being considered a disappointment this year? I have little faith that the Chicago and national media will recognize that 6 TDs in one year is the absolute high end anyone could ever expect, and that fewer TDs this year is not a sign that he's any worse.

135
by AlexDL (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 7:34pm

re: Deion Branch v. Patriots

The loss of Deion Branch was a failure of negotiations between the organization and the player and his agent. The Patriots made an offer, which I'm sure was lower than they expected the final contract to be, Branch and his agent refused it and made the additional demand that the franchise tag be taken off the table. The Patriots refused to negotiate the use of the franchise tag. After this the communication stopped from Branch and his agent.

Michael Felger, a writer for the Boston Herald, also does a show for 890am (ESPN Radio)in Boston, on January 26, 2007, he interviewed Jonathan Kraft.
Felger was able to elicit a fairly candid dialogue regarding the negotiations between the two parties. The overriding tone from Kraft was that he never expected Branch to stop negotiations. It was clear that the Patriots wanted to keep Branch and miscalculated the strategy that he and his agent would use. Once they had failed at their original intention of keeping and resigning their #1 receiver, they went to plan "B". Which was, get rid of the distraction of a holdout. Branch would have sat until the tenth game of the season, as is allowed under the CBA, in order to qualify for his final year of service with the Patriots.

Now the "what if" game comes into play and we can wonder if Branch would have been a significant factor in the remaining six games of the regular season and the two games played in the playoffs. No one can really say with any certainty what would have been different. It may have been the difference in getting the Patriots that fourth ring in six years, or the Patriots may have missed the playoffs all together. No one will ever know.

What did this teach us regarding the Patriots and their "hardball" tactics with their free agents? That it sucks when someone stonewalls you. Whether it's the Patriots stonewalling a player or a player stonewalling the Patriots. If the Patriots do have a particular system of placing valuations on a player expect to stick to it, then it's really only fair when a player does the same to them.
As a fan of the team it occasionally sucks to lose a player that you like to root for. But, really the Kool-aid kicks in when you look at the great success that the Patriots have had the last six years and the prospect for continued success in the immediate future and think that the organization, overall is making the right decisions.

136
by Kevin Eleven (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 7:44pm

121 and others: Rich, I am a big Patriots fan and have been for 30 years. Been with 'em through the thick and the thin.

Having said that, I just can't buy into this "whatever the Patriots do (or did), they're right because they're the Patriots" thing. I find it impossible to believe that had they resolved their issues with Branch and got him to camp on time that they would have been a better team in 2006.

Again, I'm as big a Pats fan as anyone, but I can't give the franchise every single benefit to every single doubt. I'm sorry, but they overplayed their hand with Deion Branch, and lost an excellent player as a result.

137
by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 7:47pm

Re #117 Star: Those are cap hit figures, not actual salaries, and while they make 2008 look more palatable, look in the future years: you want to pay Stallworth $6M per year for the next 6 years? They won't do it. They won't pay him the $8M in bonuses.

Rich: I agree -- You in particular have been on the Pats when they make mistakes, and you're tough on Brady when he doesn't play well. But, the questions of Branch, while valid, stir up these questions as well:

Is Welker any good (DVOA of 0.1% in 2006, down from 13.7% in 2006)?
Is Moss any good (-13.8% DVOA in 2006, down from 4.9% in 2005 and 21.4% in 2004)?
Is Stallworth any good (7.4% in 2006, 3.8% in 2005, -1% in 2004)?

So, while Pats fans are excited, I don't see it. These guys weren't great last year, they have no future in NE ... what am I missing? I mean, some will say Brady can win throwing to anyone, but really? In 2004, their last SB year, he had Givens 16%, Patten 15%, and Branch 36%.

138
by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 7:55pm

I meant to add: I don't think Givens, Patten and Branch were some kind of Swan/Stalworth group, but they had played with Brady for more than a few months, and they were an effective crew. It may take more than a year for this new crew of guys to work well with Brady, and I don't see the financial pieces there to have these guys have a future in NE. (And Washington has caught a total of 31 passes in the last two years?)

139
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 8:32pm

Purds,

In reponse to DVOA of the incoming players, consider this:

David Givens (+5.5% 2005, -32.5% 2006)
Deion Branch (+19.0% 2005, -3% 2006)
David Patten (+15.5% 2004, -38.5 % 2005)

Reche Caldwell (-0.2% 2005, +9.4% 2006)
Jabar Gaffney (-13.1% 2005, +8.5% 2006)

The bold numbers are the years when these players were in NE. Two of these guys (not coincidentally the two with the smallest change in DVOA) played the other year with a pretty good QB (Hassleback and Brees).

Add to that that NE's passing DVOA in 2006, with Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell, an aged Troy Brown, and the Bam Childress/Kelvin Kight of the week as the WR's, was +20.6%, the sixth best in the league. When the #2 WR didn't even join the team till about Week 3 (never mind training camp).

Either all recievers become magically better when they play in NE, or (a subtly different possibility) actual reciever prowess...i.e. if they're "any good", to use your terminology...has very little effect on how they perform, at least by the DVOA metric.

To summarize...I'm not saying the Patriots can do no wrong, or were right to dump Deion Branch, or are all set at WR for the forseeable future, or could plug just about any WR in. But I am confident that, unless they get hit with the worst possible injury luck or ALL of the WR's on the roster suddenly descent to FredEx-ish level ability, the Pats have built sufficient WR depth this year and have enough options for subsequent years that they will be able to field a competitive passing offense, because they have consistently proved able to field such an offense as long as they have at least "average" calibur NFL recievers.

140
by Francisco (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 10:20pm

I wish we argued more about the AFC East around here.

141
by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 10:31pm

MJK:

Good argument, but you can't just pick and choose those 2 incoming guys (and Gaffney caught only 20 passes!).

What about Gabriel? 8.4% in 2006, -1.2% with NE. Where was the magic there?
Troy Brown was -6% last year with NE.
Chad Jackson might be something, but ACLs are tough on WR's.

And, Givens was already on a down trend before he left NE (56% in 2003, 17% in 2004, 11.6% in 2003 with Pats, then to -33%). The writing was on the wall, at least a little bit.
And, you forget Patten was -4%, -7% and 15% with Pats, then -39% without. I'd say the one good year in NE was the outlier, not his bad year after, though the drop is amazing.
Or, I'd say it took three years with NE before he showed any life (as did Givens, who was -20 in 2002 before three good years).

Hey, overall, I agree with this: good teams make decent players better. We'll see how good some of the Colt castoffs are this year. (Edge went -11% this year, after +16%, +13% for Colts in past two years).

But, I don't agree that it's easy, or fast, or a lock, even with the number of guys brought in. Guys who stay with a QB and system get better.

142
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 05/17/2007 - 10:33pm

"Mathis was a Pro Bowl kick returner his rookie year but is unlikely to pay many dividends in the passing game."

True, but if he's really that similar to Ginn, Houston would be the very worst place for Mathis to succeed as a receiver. People who are great deep threats, but not as good running shorter routes, aren't much use if the O-line can't protect the QB, and the coach only calls one long pass play per game.

143
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 12:32am

I think it's clear that the Patriots got themselves into a bad position with Branch, but then they were saved by the Seahawks being stupid.

Obviously, it's no good for anyone when a player makes a big distraction, refuses to play, etc. The Patriots were in a bad situation. But then the Seahawks took it upon themselves to remove the distraction and give the Patriots a first round pick for it. If Randy Moss and Darrell Jackson are worth 4th rounders, is Branch really worth a 1st rounder?

144
by SJM (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 1:16am

Re: 125

If Ginn is about as good as Hester as a return man, then he would be worth a 2nd or 3rd round pick on that alone. Add in his big upside as a receiver, and I’d say he’s easily worth a first rounder. Plus, he’s also shown promise at cornerback, so there’s a little upside there, too. I’d say that adds up to about a top ten pick.

OK, let's see. IF Ginn is as good as Hester, then he is worth a second round pick. There's no guarantee that he will be that good, and if he is worse then he will not be worth that much. (BTW, if Hester's performance falls off, which is a distinct possibility, then he won't have deserved to get picked in the second round either. Returners often have one huge year and then never play at that level again.)

Adding in Ginn's upside as a receiver, I still don't see how he's better that a 2nd rounder. His upside is technically as high as Steve Smith or Santana Moss only because he plays the same position as them and he's about as fast. It's not because he will actually be anywhere near as good as them. There are LOTS of blazing fast WRs who don't amount to anything. So basically, his odds of actually reaching his potential are small, and guys like that don't go in the first round.

He's shown promise at CB? That's a joke. He won't play a down at CB unless he's a total failure at WR, and even then it isn't likely. If he does play at CB, I guarantee you he'll be nothing special.

There are tons of returners who had huge years and were not drafted in the first round: Michael Lewis, Jermaine Lewis, Dante Hall, Chad Morton. Sure, Ginn has more upside as a receiver than those guys, but not all that much more.

So he might (but might not) be a great return man. He's not likely to be a great WR. And he won't be a good corner (sorry). That sounds like a #9 overall to you? Sounds more like a late 2nd rounder to me.

145
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 3:02am

#143: "If he does play at CB, I guarantee you he’ll be nothing special."

Guarantee? I see you've done more research into his playing ability at CB than I have, I thought it was largely unknown what would happen if he played there. It seemed to me that he had the necessary speed and physical ability to play very well at that position, and I saw little evidence that he couldn't succeed there, but since you've obviously done more detailed scouting than I have, I guess CB isn't a possibility. Sorry I brought it up.

Look, I never claimed he was a lock to be a great receiver, or CB. But I guess I'm just more optimistic about his chances than you are. I'm puzzled at how certain you are that he will bust, given that he's never played a down in the NFL.

146
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 8:51am

Re: 111 "However, had they done so, that probably would have resulted in no Adalius Thomas, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker, or Randy Moss this year. Whether some or all of these players work out this year and/or in years to come will directly affect how the Branch situation worked out in the long run."

I think this overstates it. I agree that Moss and Stallworth wouldn't be there, but I think Welker and certainly Thomas would have still been signed. Again I don't have the details, but I would think that Branch's cap # for this year would be similar to the total of Moss and Stallworth (about $3 million each).

147
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 9:57am

Alex- There are plenty of athletic ans speedy corners that don't work out. There are technical and fundamental aspects to the position.

148
by Moon Hippo (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 10:14am

I dont think that you can evaluate Deion Branch as a Seahawk based on last year:Branch joined the team afer the season had started, and had to adjust to a new offense. Just as he seemed to be getting in sync with Hassellbeck, Matt then gets injured. Wait until you see how he does this year as the number one guy with a whole training camp under his belt. I do agree that we probably overpaid for Branch though - a second rounder would have been more like it. Also, since Darrell Jackson was mentioned as being worth a 4th rounder- he's a 1st round talent, but he has chronic knee problems and is a clubhouse cancer. Oh, and I too have my tickets for London, its going to be great!

149
by Moon Hippo (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 10:16am

argh - why dont my para breaks work???

150
by calbuzz (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 10:19am

"Ginn's struggles to break through press coverage are overblown, and the Dolphins wouldn't have drafted him to do a job he can't physically handle."

I don't like the Ginn pick either, but what's with the Meriweather apology?

151
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 10:47am

147, I don't think it's fair to call Darrell Jackson a clubhouse cancer, he just saw things differently than management, and decided to pursue a course of action that they've decided isn't Seahawks football. I don't think most teams in the NFL would have reacted the same way given D-jacks production, and the mild form his dissent took. In that sense it's very much like the Branch situation where things for no particularly good reason, just came to head were people had to part ways. Branch wanted money the Pats probably could have afforded it, in a certain time frame, D-jack wanted his previous handshake agreement acknowledged if not honored and was willing to not fully participate in off season activities to demonstrate what he wanted. His injuries no doubt hurt his cause. In so many of these cases it seems like a little flexibility wouldn't be the worst thing as there would superficially appear to be solutions that made everyone happy.

152
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 10:55am

#146: "There are plenty of athletic ans speedy corners that don’t work out. There are technical and fundamental aspects to the position."

Right, but there are also plenty of athletic and speedy corners that do work out. I don't see why anyone would conclude that he is in the former group without seeing him play at cornerback. The only thing that would hold him back is a lack of ability in the technical and fundamental aspects of the position, which we have no way of evaluating until watching him play. I don't see how anyone can guarantee that he won't be a very good cornerback without that evidence. Maybe he could be a good cornerback, maybe not, but I don't think anyone is really in a position to know that with any certainty right now.

153
by zip (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 11:22am

I don’t see how anyone can guarantee that he won’t be a very good cornerback without that evidence.

Because the last time he played CB was high school?

I realize someone said "guarantee" which is of course too strong a word, but come realistically -- it's very unlikely that he'll become a very good corner back, simply because there's no precedent. If WRs could be converted to CB with any kind of success, why does it so rarely happen?

Troy Brown successfully playing DB for the Patriots in previous years is NOT a precedent for two reasons -- 1, he was not a "good" corner, he was replacement level. 2, he was not a raw, athletic, burner like Ginn -- he was successful because he was a savvy veteran player.

154
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 11:53am

"Right, but there are also plenty of athletic and speedy corners that do work out. I don’t see why anyone would conclude that he is in the former group without seeing him play at cornerback."

Name me an NFL CB, worthy of the #9 pick in the draft, who didnt play CB/S in college. Name ONE.

What someone played in highschool doesnt mean jack.

155
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 12:17pm

With regards to why I picked the five names I did and only looked at one year each--I was trying to be systematic. There are only 5 WR's that I could think of that have played at least one year with Tom Brady and at least one year elsewhere, and so I listed all five, and listed only the two transition years. I agree there's more to the story of each than is just captured by DVOA for those two years--Purds is right that Givens was cresting in the system when he left, while Patten was on a systematic downturn, and I expect Deion Branch to play much better next year (of course, it should be noted that he joined the team earlier than Gaffney joined the Patriots, and Gaffney ended up having a better year).

And I don't argue that you could probably find a similar trend for the Colts (i.e. Edge), and some other good offensive teams--the problem is, good offensive teams other than the Patriots don't typically seem to have a lot of skill-player turnover. How many Rams or Colts recievers have played at least one year in the team's current offensive system, and at least one year elsewhere? It will be interesting to see what happens with Brandon Stokely and Daniel Graham this year. My guess is that they will significantly underperform their former performance. Purds will likely (correctly) argue that this is largely a factor of having to learn a new system, but the dramatic declines of players that leave a team like the Colts or Pats coupled with the dramatic improvement of players like Caldwell and Gafney even their first year, and the emergment of a player like Addai, speaks to the fact that offensive system and scheme and QB skill play huge roles in the performance of the "skill" players--probably bigger roles combined than the actual skill of the player.

This is actually another reason to be pessimistic about Ted Ginn (and for that matter, about Calvin Johnson). Both players are going into unsettled or shaky systems with unproven (or badly proven) schemes, and suspect QB's. All the WR talent in the world won't save that situation (just ask Matt Millen).

156
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 12:21pm

#152: "it’s very unlikely that he’ll become a very good corner back, simply because there’s no precedent. If WRs could be converted to CB with any kind of success, why does it so rarely happen?"

Well, maybe because there aren't that many who attempt that conversion. I mean, really, what's the sample size of people with 4.3 speed who were highly recruited out of high school at CB, played a few years at WR, then tried to convert back to CB in the NFL? I know it's unprecedented, but maybe part of that is just that trying to do that is also unprecedented.

But I'll agree that it's a long shot, and honestly, I hope he's good enough as a WR that we never, ever find out.

The point I was trying to make was something like this: What would be more surprising?

1) Ginn busts as a WR, but then returns to CB, his high school position, and has success in the NFL.

or, say,

2) (Insert 1st round QB prospect) busts as a QB, but then switches to (insert other position here), where he has no playing experience, and has success in the NFL.

What I'm trying to say is that, while he might not be as likely to be a hit at WR as an average 1st round pick, or likely to be a successful CB, those two things taken together have a lot of potential upside. A lot of risk, but even there, you've basically got a floor to his NFL performance - kick returner, where I'm quite confident that he'll perform very well, and I'm not alone in thinking that. That's what I've been trying to get at.

And by the way, I fully acknowledge that I'm a bit biased here, having cheered for Ginn the last three years, and maybe I'm letting my homerism get the better of me. But I just don't understand the nearly universal pessimism towards Ginn.

Honestly, I get the sense that some of it is just due to him not being Brady Quinn. And I can understand that. But there's even a silver lining to that cloud:

2006 passing stats:

Brady Quinn- 7.3 Yards/Attempt, 147 QB rating

Ted Ginn Jr.- 19 Yards/Attemp, 374 QB rating

The Dolphins obviously knew that Ginn, not Quinn, would be the answer to their search for a franchise QB, with the added benefit that Ginn could also catch 50 yard bombs from himself by running downfield after the throw! ;)

157
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 12:36pm

If Stokely declines it's because he's chronically injured. He was injured most if not all of last year.

Daniel Graham is being paid a nice chunk of change, but not as any big receiving threat from what I understand.

158
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 12:39pm

Re 155:
Jerry Azumah was a running back at New Hampshire and was converted to CB in Chicago. I don't know what he played in HS but I know that his conversion was planned from the time he was drafted. He was a capable corner and his career was shortened by a hip problem.

159
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 12:53pm

#153: "Name me an NFL CB, worthy of the #9 pick in the draft, who didnt play CB/S in college. Name ONE."

Look, I agree that it would be unprecedented. But name me a player with 4.3 speed who switched from CB to WR when he went to college, then tried to switch back to CB in the NFL. If nobody's ever attempted it, it shouldn't surprise anyone that nobody's succeeded. If it's never been tried, then it would strike me as being very uncertain, but I'd hardly rule out the possibility.

#154: "This is actually another reason to be pessimistic about Ted Ginn (and for that matter, about Calvin Johnson). Both players are going into unsettled or shaky systems with unproven (or badly proven) schemes, and suspect QB’s. All the WR talent in the world won’t save that situation (just ask Matt Millen)."

Yes, but this applies to most high first round WRs, and some of them turn out just fine, even when they are drafted by Matt Millen. See Roy Williams. He's living proof that a WR who's good enough can be plenty successful in a bad offense with an unproven QB. The other WR Williams they drafted, and Charles Rogers, just prove that Matt Millen isn't good at evaluating talent.

160
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 1:46pm

"Look, I agree that it would be unprecedented. But name me a player with 4.3 speed who switched from CB to WR when he went to college, then tried to switch back to CB in the NFL. If nobody’s ever attempted it, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that nobody’s succeeded. If it’s never been tried, then it would strike me as being very uncertain, but I’d hardly rule out the possibility."

It also could mean theres a very good reason that it hasnt been tried. Theres plenty of bad college corners who are that fast and dont go anywhere in the NFL. Theres no reason to think Ginn is anything other than a bad college corner with a good combine.

IMO, corner is muhc more difficult to play than WR, so if a guy can't play WR, I doubt he can play corner.

161
by Purds (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 3:50pm

Re: #154

Darn you, MJK. You gave a well-reasoned, thoughtful argument that leaves me with nothing worthy to add to the debate.

Have some mercy and say somethiing just a little bit stupid next time, won't ya, so I can have something to say.

162
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (aka SJM) (not verified) :: Fri, 05/18/2007 - 7:56pm

MJK,

Your evidence supports a Bill Simmons-type theory of mine which I call "the Tom Brady effect" (formerly "the Brett Farve effect"). Basically it's that receivers who looked good with Brady often seem to suck anywhere else. I first noticed this with Farve (when they cut Freeman, Schroeder, and the other guy, and brought in Driver, Walker and Fergusen and didn't miss a beat, while those guys all went on to suck), but I don't think it applies to him anymore. It may actually be a function of being an elite QB (or being on a well run franchise), but Manning's receivers have been pretty stable, so I can't draw any conclusions from them. The failure of the Martz Rams' receivers who left may also apply, but I suspect that that case was more due to a unique offense.

It does not necessarily imply that Moss, Stallworth, and Welker will have career years, but it wouldn't take much for Moss to improve over the last two years, and Welker having a career year is a definite possibility (since Tom loves to spread the ball around).

163
by billvv (not verified) :: Sat, 05/19/2007 - 6:00pm

I think the Jets actually did fill their biggest hole, that of running back, in drafting Thomas Jones. With a year under their belts, look for the Jets to maintain their second place in the AFC East and contend for the wild card again, too.

164
by hwc (not verified) :: Sun, 05/20/2007 - 6:07am

"All now elsewhere, does this point to an exit for Samuel too?"

---------

Doubtful. Asante Samuel is leaving a half a million dollars per game on the table if he holds out. That's $5 million for a 10 game holdout.

That's a lot of benjies.

165
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sun, 05/20/2007 - 10:47am

"This is actually another reason to be pessimistic ... about Calvin Johnson"

Um, no, it's really not. Johnson may not make the Lions a good team, but there is no reason to think being on the Lions will prevent Johnson from being a successful player. Mike freaking Furrey had 800 yards last year in the role Johnson is likely to play as a rookie. This is an offensive system and coach which have won two conference championships and one Superbowl, and which last season got 4,200 yards passing, good for 4th in the league, and 21 passing touchdowns (9th) out of Jon Kitna. Again, that doesn't make Kitna or the Lions good, but it does mean that Johnson is in a situation where he ought to be able to post good numbers.

As to Wembley, the stadium is architecturally spectacular, and the elevators to get up to the top tier, where I was sitting, were much appreciated. The toilets are a huge improvement over the ones at the old stadium, but as anyone who ever attended a game there knows, that isn't hard. They're just your average major sports stadium level of nasty, as opposed to inhuman sinks of stench and death. Queuing for the outrageously priced concessions is reasonably quick, possibly because no-one will buy them at those prices, but if you fancy a matchday programme or any kind of merchandise, you'd best be prepared to stand in line until the oceans boil, the skies catch fire, Hell freezes over and Chinese Democracy is available in stores.

166
by Oily Harry (not verified) :: Sun, 05/20/2007 - 4:01pm

Jets 11-5
Patriots 9-7
Bills 7-9
Dolphins 5-11

167
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 8:12am

Man, based on the above post I have absolutely no idea which team Oily Harry supports . . .

Dude, I'm sorry, but the Jets were nothing like as good as their record last year. They were 19th in DVOA (-4.7%), 17th in estimated wins (7.6) and 12th in pythagorean wins (8.7). They were a mediocre team that scraped a wild card off the back of an easy schedule. I know they're young and likely to improve as a team, but improving as a team does not equate to improving your record if you significantly out-performed your ability in posting that record. They may scrape a wild card again, because they're division still sucks, but they still don't have a defensive line or a strong safety. David Harris may improve the run defense some, but it will still be very bad, and in the short term Darelle Revis is almost certain to be a downgrade compared to Justin Miller, who looks certain to miss substantial playing time after being charged with third degree assault.

168
by billvv (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 9:32am

Mr. Shush, if you look at the second half of the last season you'll see why Jets fans believe they'll outplay your expectations.

169
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 11:30am

"Mr. Shush, if you look at the second half of the last season you’ll see why Jets fans believe they’ll outplay your expectations."

Thats fair, but theres no way the Patriots go 9-7.

170
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 11:35am

Jets Schedule
Sep 9 New England L
Sep 16 @Baltimore L
Sep 23 Miami W
Sep 30 @Buffalo W
Oct 7 @N.Y. Giants L
Oct 14 Philadelphia L
Oct 21 @Cincinnati L
Oct 28 Buffalo W
Nov 4 Washington W
Week 10 BYE (4-5)
Nov 18 Pittsburgh L
Nov 22 @Dallas L
Dec 2 @Miami W
Dec 9 Cleveland W
Dec 16 @New England L
Dec 23 @Tennessee W
Dec 30 Kansas City W

That puts the jets at 8-8, and pretty much assumes that they'll beat any team that wasnt in the top 5 or 6 last year. Theres no way they win 11 games. 9-7 if theyre lucky.

171
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 12:04pm

Thats fair, but theres no way the Patriots go 9-7.

I dunno - both the Colts and the Patriots are a bit overdue for injuries to their QBs, and neither has a particularly good backup situation.

(And yes, Favre has gone eight billion years without missing a game due to injury, but he probably should've back in 2003. Everyone gets injured.)

172
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 12:33pm

Pat (#170 )--

Actually, both Brady and Manning have played hurt.

Rich Conley (#169 )--

IIRC, Oily Harry's assuming the Jets sweep the Patriots. Sound unrealistic? Maybe, but you assume the reverse.

173
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 1:16pm

"IIRC, Oily Harry’s assuming the Jets sweep the Patriots. Sound unrealistic? Maybe, but you assume the reverse."

I assume the reverse because the Patriots had a total DVOA of 23.3% and were trending up. They made significant additions to their two weak spots. The Jets on the other hand, were a -5% DVOA team. To assume anything other than a sweep would be silly. The Jets may be good this year, but I think its VERY unlikely that they hit the +15% area where they would be a competitive team.

Honestly, I wouldnt be all that surprised to see the Jets DVOA go UP, and have them only win 6-8 games. I dont see them winning any of the games I have them marked as losing, except by fluke, and I do see a couple games that they could lose, that I have them marked as winning.

Pat, why dont you think the Patriots or Colts have good backup situations? Both Sorgi and Cassell have looked pretty good in limited time. Theyre definitely not as good as the guys they'd replace, but I really doubt theyd be in the bottom 3rd performance-wise

174
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 1:30pm

I assume the reverse because the Patriots had a total DVOA of 23.3% and were trending up.
And yet, they split their games last year, while New England was busy compiling that 23.3% DVOA.

175
by Oily Harry (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 8:57pm

I think the Jets are coached very well. That's why I have them going 11-5. Justin Miller is not a good defensive player. He is obviously a good kickoff return man, but he can be replaced there. Let's be honest.

Patriots? Ehh. They don't excite me.

Bills- one year away.
Dolphins- ditto.

Colts, Broncos, Chargers, Steelers, and Bengals are the class of the AFC.

176
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 11:51pm

#172: "I assume the reverse because the Patriots had a total DVOA of 23.3% and were trending up. They made significant additions to their two weak spots. The Jets on the other hand, were a -5% DVOA team. To assume anything other than a sweep would be silly."

Why would that be silly? They split their games last year. It's not that unusual to see division rivals split games, even when they aren't similar in talent level. For instance, the Colts split their games with every team in their division, including the Texans! They had a DVOA advantage of 39.3%, and they still lost. If you think it's silly to assume that the Jets could be good enough next year to repeat their performance from last year, we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

#170: "'Thats fair, but theres no way the Patriots go 9-7.'

I dunno - both the Colts and the Patriots are a bit overdue for injuries to their QBs, and neither has a particularly good backup situation."

Who says they have to have an injury to their QB to go 9-7? The Patriots went 9-7 in 2002 with their super clutch golden boy under center, no reason it couldn't happen again. I don't think it will, but it's not all that unlikely.

177
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 05/22/2007 - 12:30am

I'd say its a lot more likely that the Jets go 6-10 than it is that the Pats or Colts go 9-7.

178
by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 05/22/2007 - 7:28am

#176: "I’d say its a lot more likely that the Jets go 6-10 than it is that the Pats or Colts go 9-7."

I guess I agree, but I don't think any of those are all that unlikely.

179
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 05/22/2007 - 9:21am

There should be, of course, a handy way to calculate a wins benchmark. Here's my attempt:

If a good team is going to have a good season, they will win games equal to:
4 wins in their own division .
Every other game except road games against playoff teams. (last season's playoff teams, since obviously we don't know who this season's will be.)
So, for the Patriots (assuming you consider them a good team), a benchmark good season would be 11 wins. (2 losses in division, losses at Indy, at Baltimore, and at NY Giants).

Simpler and faster than going through the schedule and guessing based on our hopeful imagination of matchups that are far from clear at this point in May.

180
by Led (not verified) :: Tue, 05/22/2007 - 10:19am

Re: 166, if by "easy schedule" you mean almost exactly the same level of difficulty as the Pats' schedule, then I agree. See link for FO numbers.

There are several reasons to be cautious about the Jets this year (e.g., run defense, QB health, special teams decline). Last year's schedule is not a particularly significant one.

181
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 05/22/2007 - 10:47am

Led (#179 )--

That link goes to an ESPN article.

The real question is, were the Jets a good team last year (and therefore should have been expected to win ten games or so), or an average team (seven to nine wins) that got lucky and picked up an extra win or three? Estimated and pythagorean wins seem to imply the latter.

So we have here the difference of opinion: Oily Harry hinks the Jets are a good team* ("I think the Jets are coached very well.") and grants them eleven wins. Rich Conley thinks they are average, or even a little below. ("I wouldnt be all that surprised to see the Jets DVOA go UP, and have them only win 6-8 games.")

For the record I think that the Jets will be at least above average, and possibly good, provided either: 1. Pennington stays healthy all season, or 2. Clemens plays well in relief.

*Then again, this line:
Colts, Broncos, Chargers, Steelers, and Bengals are the class of the AFC.
...managed to hit only two of the top five teams in the AFC by DVOA (in order: Baltimore, San Diego, New England, Jacksonville, Indianapolis), and included two teams that finished third in their own divisions. So I suspect his judgement might be more informed by homerishful thinking ("Patriots? Ehh. They don’t excite me.") than sound analysis.

182
by sippican (not verified) :: Tue, 05/22/2007 - 11:27am

Remind me to stay out of the Foxborough area this season. I've been instructed that that Patriots are going to go 9-7 this year, so apparently a meteorite is going to strike there sometime in November.

183
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/22/2007 - 3:30pm

Pat, why dont you think the Patriots or Colts have good backup situations? Both Sorgi and Cassell have looked pretty good in limited time. Theyre definitely not as good as the guys they’d replace, but I really doubt theyd be in the bottom 3rd performance-wise

With Sorgi, it's because the drop from Manning to Sorgi is huge. Sorgi could be an average starting QB (and that's impressive!) and it would still probably drop the Colts to 8-8 or so.

With Cassel... eh, there I can't really agree. Cassel's a replacement level QB.

184
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 05/22/2007 - 4:24pm

Oh no! It's the start of the irrational Sorgi/Cassel thread!

Sorgi has more rings than Cassel, so he's better.

185
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Tue, 05/22/2007 - 9:48pm

180 - to be fair, he did list four of the top seven teams in DVOA in the AFC (the AFC North is just that stacked), and it's entirely possible he thinks that the Ravens' aging stars are all going to hit a decline next year. Also, Jacksonville had a freaking 30% variance. I have difficulty accepting the Jaguars as top five in the AFC on consistency grounds. Hmm, I still have to explain the Denver pick. Long-term performance?

182 - The gap from Manning to anyone is huge. Last year's gap from Manning to Carson Palmer was further (in DPAR terms) than Tom Brady to replacement level. Plus, can Sorgi run the Indianapolis no-huddle the way Manning does? Tom Moore might actually have to call plays, can he still remember how?

Hmm, I really should say something about the AFC East in this comment. Um, the Fins long-term solution to the QB problem will be the top-five draft pick they look thoroughly on course to collect, with the aging defense and lack of offensive line (and QB).

186
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 05/23/2007 - 8:15am

to be fair, he did list four of the top seven teams in DVOA in the AFC
So, given five chances, he got four in the top half?

I'll be fair: that's somewhat better than flipping a coin.

187
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 05/23/2007 - 12:53pm

"Hmm, I really should say something about the AFC East in this comment. Um, the Fins long-term solution to the QB problem will be the top-five draft pick they look thoroughly on course to collect, with the aging defense and lack of offensive line (and QB). "

I somewhat agree with this. I just dont see Beck as being a viable Franchise QB. Hes 26 for god sakes. He'll be turning 30 before he knows what hes doing.

188
by sippican (not verified) :: Wed, 05/23/2007 - 6:40pm

Yaguar- Sorgi's talented, of course, but Cassell is more clutch, no doubt.

You should see him clutching the clipboard.

189
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 06/04/2007 - 9:42pm

LAST~! :)

As a DolFan, what the Pats have done this offseason depressed me until I realized that teams who try to buy titles never actually manage to win them and that my team routinely splits with the Pats no matter how great the Pats and how bad the Fins are.

So now I'm just depressed about the Jets' offseason :-(

190
by sebman2112 (not verified) :: Sun, 07/22/2007 - 2:03pm

In response to #41 and to a few other Meriweather comments already made:

1. Meriweather didn't actually stomp on anyone's face or head. The football player he stomped on had attacked one of his teammates and took a swing at a Miami coach who was trying to break things up. This player still had his helmet on.

2. Miami coaches played game film where an FIU player first pushed Meriweather after a play, then Meriweather looked over at the official and the official did nothing. On another play later in the game the same FIU player punched Meriweather and Meriweather again told the official (this is on game film) but the official did nothing. Later the brawl breaks out which was again started by FIU players. If you ask me he showed a great deal of restraint to avoid fighting with the FIU player when they first punched him, and while taking part in a brawl is certainly not a good thing people need to understand what actually happened that day.

In response to those talking about the shooting incident:

The apartment that Meriweather and Cooper were renting from a team official had already been robbed just previous to this incident. During that robbery a laptop Computer was stolen out of their apartment. Meriweather then start carrying the gun for his safety in light of that robbery. We don't know if the assailant who showed up at their apartment wearing a bandana was the same person who robbed them the first time or not, but we do know he had bad intentions which he made good on by shooting Cooper in the butt. If Meriweather had not been there to return fire at the assailant Cooper might have been killed. Also, this took place around 6am after Meriweather had come home from staying the night at his girlfriends house so he and Cooper could go to football practices.