Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.
09 Feb 2007
by Bill Barnwell and Ian Dembsky
Bill: The temperature in New England today is roughly -5 degrees, once you account for the wind chill. It's funny -- I expected hell freezing over to be a bit colder. Fortunately, I had this delicious crow chowder for lunch. Toasty.
In all seriousness, congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts and their fans. Your thoughts on the game, Ian?
Ian: My thoughts are that Chicago had every chance to win the game, but poor game management did them in. I just can't understand why they went away from the run in the second half, when it was working so well. A lot of teams feel pressured to make big plays against the Colts, since their offense is so good. The Bears defense was bending a lot, but it was still forcing a fair number of field goals to keep the game in range. Their offense, however, refused to put together good drives. It was bombs away, in an environment where Grossman simply couldn't throw an accurate deep ball. I thought Thomas Jones looked excellent, and was disappointed he didn't get the ball more down the stretch.
The Bears defense, meanwhile, also seemed to be playing the game rather strangely. They were good about getting the Colts into third down situations, but then kept playing a soft zone that made it simple for Manning to dump the ball off to a back for first down yardage. If they had been more aggressive in third down situations, they may have occasionally given up bigger chunks of yardage, but they certainly would've forced more punts and kept Vinatieri off the field.
Ian: In case you didn't read last week's Scramble, Bill and I wagered an imaginary $100 on almost all of the proposition bets a person could make. The lesson we learned: Don't do it. Bill did better than I did by "only" losing $2,050*. I managed to lose $2,225. Amazingly, one of the Outsiders' staff managed to finish with positive money -- none other than Aaron Schatz. Thanks to predicting the total points would be in the 43-49 range, predicting the highest scoring quarter would be the first, and mostly by predicting the first score of the game would be a "Chicago Other Touchdown," he managed to finish up 820 bucks. No one else was a close second.
*Since the Grammys don't happen until this weekend, the results of Marvin Harrison receptions versus Mary J Blige Grammy wins hasn't been factored in yet. I know you're riveted.
Bill: Time to go through our picks for the 4th Annual Football Outsiders Off-season Contest. We list a bunch of players who are free agents or potential salary cap casualties here. You pick where they're likely to go. Whoever gets the most wins a copy of Pro Football Prospectus and our fantasy projections. Whoever finishes second or third gets t-shirts. I wear mine at the gym and I get all kinds of looks while I'm on the treadmill. That might be because I wear the Baby Doll one, but what can I say? The regular ones effectively hide my thunder. I am also protesting the new contest rules that you can't pick a player to remain with his current team by picking players to remain with their current teams about half the time. Ian and I provide our thoughts on these potential moves below.
Bill: Remember, he can't be franchised for 2007 as per his agreement with Buffalo. Of course, Marv Levy could just claim that he forgot because, you know, he's 81 and all. Wikipedia tells us, "There are Rumours that Nate Clements will sign with the Washington Redskins, this not being surprising since Dan Snyder has a reputation for going after big name Free Agents in the offseason every year." Why is rumors capitalized and British? Was Stevie Nicks editing Nate Clements' Wikipedia page? She must know something. I'll say Redskins. Vinny Cerrato will find a way.
Ian: The Giants defensive backs just haven't been getting it done. Dallas, Washington and Philadelphia all have talented wideouts, and failing to match up well there was a key contributor to their late season fade. Look for them to make a splash to improve their secondary, and signing Nate Clements would be a good start.
Bill: Engram's still a good player (as a 16.1% DVOA can attest), but he was virus-stricken for most of the season and is fifth on Seattle's depth chart. At 34, he's not getting any younger and is probably looking to go for a ring. Where's a good fit? Philadelphia, which runs the same offensive scheme and values a similar style of receiver.
Ian: I'll take a random stab at this one, and guess that Arizona looks to provide another threat for Matt Leinart to throw to, while stealing from a division rival.
Bill: I actually have no idea why Hamlin is a Football Outsiders favorite, to be honest.* With that being said, it's not as if Seattle's safety play was anything to write home about this year. I think Hamlin resigns with Seattle.
Ian: New Orleans is another team that seriously needs to reshape its secondary. Look for them to acquire some leadership for their defensive backfield, and bringing in Hamlin would be a great way to do it.
(*Ed. note: He's better than Jordan Babineaux and Michael Boulware, but I don't quite remember why he ended up in the Favorites category either... there was a reason, I swear. -- Aaron)
Bill: Jenkins has the Pro Bowl defensive tackle cachet around him. He also missed half of 2004 and all of 2005 with injuries, and when he came back this season, Carolina's defense was 9th in the league against the run. It's worth noting, though, that they were second in stopping power runs and third in stuffing opponents, both of which Jenkins would have a lot to do with. I think he's too important to the team and that Carolina holds onto him.
Ian: I see you're copping out on most of choices and just picking the players to stay put, which isn't even allowed in the real contest. I will do no such thing, and boldly predict wrong outcomes like no sportswriter has done before.
Mario Williams performed pretty well in his rookie season, but the rest of the defensive line there isn't exactly helping him tear holes in the O-line. Kris Jenkins would look mighty nice lined up alongside him in Houston.
Bill: It's only a rumor that we're trying to get Peterson an honorary degree from Brown. Peterson always seems to be doing things to help his team win -- his fantastic DVOA in 2005, his special teams performance this year. You keep hearing about underappreciated guys who help a team win. Jeff Saturday? Tommie Harris? Not really underappreciated anymore, no matter what Jim Nantz tells you. Peterson? In two months, he's not even going to be the most famous NFL player named "Adrian Peterson." Peterson will have a job next season, but it's hard to say where that will be. I'll assume Chicago watches their own film enough and Peterson stays at home.
Ian: Oh man, Bill, you're killing me with all these stay home predictions. I say he surprisingly ends up with New York Giants, where he takes third downs and the occasional series from incumbent starter Brandon Jacobs. The Giants will look to spend on their defense, while finding bargains to help out the offense.
Bill: Let the drama begin. Samuel's bitter because the Patriots are yet to make him an offer he could even consider justifying. His response? To play out of his mind in the playoffs, jumping routes and picking passes off seemingly at will. I think he even yelled "User Pick!" after a couple of them, too. While the Patriots' notion of value led them to pass on Deion Branch in favor of the Florida Gator Parade, it's hard to envision them feeling that Samuel is as replaceable as his former colleague. I'll say Patriots via the Franchise tag. That is, assuming they don't use it on Ken Walter.
Ian: [shaking head] Thanks again to Bill "Out On a Limb" Barnwell for his dramatic predictions. Look for Asante Samuel to bolt for big money, and where better for him to end up than in Denver, where there is sadly a vacancy in the secondary.
Bill: Turner, who followed Peterson in the list of running backs who led the league in DVOA, will probably be tendered the highest qualifying offer possible. That would force teams interested in him to pony up a first- and third-round pick for his services, a tall order for any running back. Furthermore, if Turner remains with the Chargers and does not get a contract extension, he'll be an unrestricted free agent after the 2007 season. Fearing a repeat of the Drew Brees situation, the Chargers might sign Turner to an offer sheet and then attempt to trade him for compensation more palatable to one of Turner's suitors. A potential landing spot? I'll say Minnesota, who should have some salary cap space and might even be able to offer the Chargers a player they can use in return: Fred Smoot.
Ian: Finally, Bill, a prediction of a change of scenery! The sad thing is, Minnesota is a horrible choice. They're committed to Chester Taylor, so they're not going to give up what it takes to get Turner. I think he ends up with Buffalo, who seem to have soured on Willis McGahee for reasons beyond me.
Bill: Any excuse works if you want to get rid of Kevan Barlow. A -15.0% DVOA simply isn't something you want to devote salary cap space to. Because Barlow was acquired via trade, though, the Jets aren't paying any of his bonus -- as a result, his salary is more palatable than it was for, say, the 49ers. That would seem to point toward his remaining a Jet in 2007.
Ian: I think he could be brought in as a veteran to help keep the seat warm for a rookie import. The likeliest destination for a rookie running back is Cleveland, so that's where I think Barlow ends up to help ease in Adrian Peterson, or whoever it is Cleveland drafts to be their back of the future.
Bill: The original whipping boy: Accept no substitutes. I made a remark at some point this season that someone should tear DeShaun Foster's ACL, so that he could "suffer" the same side effects as Deuce McAllister (i.e. a style change that turns a talented athlete into an effective football player). This season, Foster was 30th in DPAR, 36th in DVOA, and did absolutely nothing to push the Panthers toward a championship. With DeAngelo Williams behind him, it's about time for Foster to get kicked out the door. Where will he land? I'll say Cleveland, which needs a running back and has the cap space to give Foster a nice signing bonus.
Ian: Why would anyone want to bring in Foster? There's none I can think of; a rookie draft pick would be just as interesting to carry on a roster. As will be the case for every player that I can't think of a reasonable home for, I'm going to predict Washington. They're experts at signing the wrong free agents.
Bill: I don't know what Dhani Jones ever did to us, either.* Maybe it's some sort of Page 2 rivalry? Philadelphia's never in cap trouble, but they might choose to get rid of Jones to open up his spot for ... well, we'll talk about him later. I could see Jones leaving and getting on the shuttle bus of linebackers back to the Giants, who collect all their former linebackers at one point or another.
Ian: Jacksonville could use a boost behind that defensive line, so I could see them making a play for some mid-tier free agents. Does Dhani count as a "mid-tier" free agent though? It doesn't matter what Football Outsiders thinks, some team will think he does, and the Jaguars might as well be that team.
(*Ed. note: Clearly, these gentlemen have never received one of Mike Tanier's anti-Dhani e-mails. -- Aaron)
Bill: I think this would be, without question, an excellent move for Baltimore if they were to cut Lewis. Do I think they will? Not for a second. He's too entrenched in the locker room for the Ravens to get rid of him. He'd make a great Bengal...
Ian: What, no love for Rudi? Jamal could keep the seat warm in Detroit until Kevin Jones is healthy again, then provide a goal line presence when K-J does return. If Kevin's injury lingers, at least Detroit has a proven workhorse back.
Bill: Lewis had the anti-Samuel season, losing his job after a couple seasons of decline. It's hard to see him out of the league at 27, though. I could see a bitter Lewis turning to a team that needs a safety and will allow him to take out his frustrations on Andy Reid's team: Dallas.
Ian: Umm ... Yeah. Michael Lewis? He's headed to Washington.
Bill: The Wesley Clark of this year's running back crop. Green Bay isn't exactly building for the future if Brett Favre is coming back. If Favre returns, Green will stay with him.
Ian: Yeah, staying with Green Bay seems extremely likely (especially since Favre is, indeed, returning), but in an effort to predict something interesting I'm gonna guess that if the Jets can't get their hands on Michael Turner, perhaps Batman will end up wearing green.
Bill: Well, I can only imagine how much the Redskins want Freeney. He might be too rich for their blood, though. It's hard to find a good fit for Freeney because he's going to want an arm and a leg, but the teams who have tons of cap space are too smart to actually sign him. My guess? Cincinnati, which will slot him to replace Justin Smith.
Ian: The NFC West is full of teams that love to pass, so I can easily see one of them paying what it takes to get Freeney. I'm going to predict he ends up in San Francisco, where he'll team up with Bryant Young to put serious fear into opposing quarterbacks.
Bill: What would you actually want a Nick Harper for? Sure, he's mediocre, but mediocre corners aren't hard to find. Of course, he also might blind an owner by shining his ring in their eye. A good spot for him? New Orleans, where he will join all other carbon-based life forms in actually being an improvement on Fred Thomas.
Ian: I'll predict another cornerback to head to the Giants, who need serious help at the position, and always look for opportunities in the free agent market.
Bill: Thank god Cato June finally got the ring he deserved. God, he sucks. I would say out of football if it were an option, but since it's not, he'll resign with Indy.
Ian: After the tackling display he showed against Jacksonville's rushing attack? Oh yeah, he's headed to Washington.
Bill: Indianapolis letting an offensive player go? Are you kidding? Not a chance. Rhodes stays in Indiana.
Ian: Rhodes made quite a name for himself in the playoffs this season, where he was clearly playing for a free agent contract, since he knew Addai would be The Man next season regardless of what he did. He earned it, and will probably take DeShaun Foster's place in Carolina. He'll be exactly where he was last season, keeping the seat warm for a youngster -- in this case, DeAngelo Williams.
Bill: Think Dallas could use him as a holder? Retirement is an option for Bledsoe, according to our chart, but I think he's going to head back to the Pacific Northwest and finish up in Seattle. Hey, they never say how fast the three step drop actually has to be...
Ian: Argh! Drew Bledsoe! My head's gonna explode. He sucks! Sorry Drew, but you have the least useful cannon arm in NFL history. Sounds like a perfect one-year fit in Oakland, where he can teach JaMarcus Russell how to ... well, let's hope he doesn't teach him anything. A young stud player is a terrible thing to waste.
Bill: All of the people second-guessing Philadelphia's decision to give him a one-year deal are ridiculous. Philadelphia was the only competitive team that gave Garcia an offer. The fact that he succeeded in that year reinforces the decision being positive, not negative, especially when you consider that it's his first good season in three. Looking for a starting job, Garcia will get one in Minnesota, playing for Brad Childress in the West Coast Offense while Tarvaris Jackson tempts people on the bench.
Ian: Free Tarvaris Jackson! Minnesota won't bother bringing in someone else to keep the seat warm, he's ready. If Oakland doesn't make the huge mistake of bringing in Drew Bledsoe, it at least seems reasonable for them to bring in Garcia, whose fiery attitude would resonate well with the Oakland faithful.
Bill: If you're Huard or his agent, what are you looking for? Do you want to start for a crummy team to end your career? Are you that confident about the Rich Gannon career path? Can you really rock a CBS blazer and look classy? It's not as easy as it seems. This is somewhat of a "please come to your senses" pick for me. I'm going to say Chicago, on a one-year deal. Will that hurt Rex Grossman's feelings? Yes. Does it matter? Only if that gets printed on the flag.
Ian: Cleveland really hasn't found an answer at quarterback yet, though they have some promising options. Perhaps they'll bring in Huard along with a promising rookie running back to jump start the offense, while their quarterback contenders battle it out for top backup status.
Bill: I think Johnson's finished -- he may get an offer or two but I feel like he's retiring.
Ian: I think he has it in him to take a job holding a clipboard while mentoring a younger quarterback. Maybe he'll end up in Dallas as insurance in case something were to happen to Tony Romo.
Bill: I would say that Leftwich has been treated shoddily, but geez -- even David Garrard got benched after half a season, and all that guy does is win! I think Jacksonville will apologize to their first-rounder and restore Leftwich to the starting lineup for 2007.
Ian: So do I, but still in the interest of coming up with alternate destinations, I'll take a guess that he ends up in Detroit to give Jon Kitna pressure to keep his starting job.
Bill: This isn't particularly appetizing bait, but whatever works. A good spot for Plummer could be Cleveland, where he'd be an upgrade on Charlie Frye and could keep the seat warm for a year or two more as a starter.
Ian: I really do think Plummer's going to end up in Houston, where David Carr has simply worn out his welcome.
Bill: The hottest girl at the party just walked in. I had a thought in my head that he might win Super Bowl MVP and get a $800 million contract or something, but he had a pretty mediocre performance, all things considered. His move depends on what you think Chicago's doing this off-season. If it were me? I'd play to win it all in 2007. Sign Huard and franchise Briggs, thinking his stock is pretty much at an all-time high and knowing that it'll be virtually impossible to resign him in 2008.
Ian: While they usually aren't big players in free agency, New England needs to improve its linebacking corps, and from what I hear, their system is too complicated to plug in a rookie with any success. Look for them to make a splash at the position, and Lance Briggs would be an excellent pickup. Not wanting to play the 3-4 isn't something money can't fix.
Bill: Diggs is a useful linebacker, if not someone who stands out as a potential huge loss like Briggs or some of the other backers do. While Carolina will be up against the salary cap wall this season, they can't afford to lose Diggs after the departure of Will Witherspoon last season. Diggs stays.
Ian: Perhaps Diggs will end up in San Diego, who could always use more linebackers in their 3-4 defense. Besides, what free agent wouldn't want to go to San Diego?
Bill: I was practically howling for Edwards to head to the Patriots when he was the subject of trade speculation before the season began, and now that he's a free agent and the Patriots linebackers have been exposed, Edwards is an even better temporary fit.
Ian: From sunny California to freezing New England? I just don't see it. If he leaves the Chargers, it'll be for another warm weather team, and in this case I'm predicting Miami who already boast a talented defense.
Bill: Fletcher-Baker did an excellent job stabilizing a young team in Buffalo. He'd have been even better if Buffalo had a run-stopper in front of him. I say he stays for another year.
Ian: Look for him to follow in the immortal steps of Peerless Price on his way from Buffalo to Atlanta. Hopefully, he'll have better results than Price did.
Bill: His agent must be calling the Patriots left and right. I think Mitchell stays with the Chiefs, who will be in it to win it next year and come up about ten wins short.
Ian: Why not also predict the Patriots here as a fallback plan in case they lose out on Briggs. Then again, they could use a lot of depth at linebacker, so perhaps they'd go after both.
Bill: Thomas is going to make whatever defense picks him up very happy. He benefits from playing in the Ravens scheme, but I still think he's a player. When the Eagles realize they're not getting Briggs, I think they'll settle for Thomas, which won't be a bad backup plan whatsoever.
Ian: Oakland's defense performed much better than their offense last season. Don't expect them to stand pat and only look to improve on the offensive side of the ball -- I'm sensing a play for Adalius here, to play alongside Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison.
Bill: I am a big fan of McIntosh -- he was really solid at LT for Miami in 2005, and when they moved him back there in 2006, their line got better. Well, for a while, at least. I'll hope against hope and say the Giants get rid of the human false start, Luke Petitgout, and replace him with McIntosh.
Bill: MDS wrote in the AFC West Four Downs that he thought Dielman would be a bigger loss for the Chargers than Michael Turner, and I'm inclined to agree. Building something out of nothing, as the Chargers did with their offensive line, is a great strategy until something realizes they are, in fact, something and want to get paid for it. Dielman's Wikipedia page actually notes that he was resigned to a multi-year deal on January 20th, which might have been a move employed to scare off the dumber teams of the league. I could see Matt Millen constantly editing his Wikipedia page to take out the bad stuff and then doing some due diligence on the free agents he wants...
Bill: We lost Ian somewhere around here. I think he saw a Cadillac Williams Starting Lineup whipping around in the wind and went to go save it from itself. Anyway, Steinbach is one of the Cincinnati Ten -- so Marvin Lewis might choose to let him move on to greener pastures as part of the image rehabilitation process for the league's most unlikable team. This one's actually really easy when you think about it: Oakland's the place to be for Steinbach.
Bill: Davis was even a top-five pick. Next time someone tells you an offensive lineman is a "safe" pick, feel free to stop listening to them. With Davis being from a big college and all, I could see him moving to Detroit and right tackle, where he'll be slightly less responsible for his team's failure.
Bill: Has Graham been a bust? It's hard to say. His skill set is underappreciated -- he's a great blocker (particularly on the wham block), he's developed surer hands than he had previously, but he's not particularly fast or someone who's going to stretch the field. I'll say that the Jets, who have been seeking a tight end for three years now, stick one to their division rivals.
Bill: Grant's Wikipedia page has this trivia bit: "Can be spotted all over the city talking with fans and having a good time." How can he leave that? New Orleans.
Bill: Holliday is another one of the elder statesmen in the Dolphins front seven. He has the option of going to a mediocre team and becoming a full-time starter, or staying with the mediocre team he's on and remaining a part-time player in a defense where everyone but Jason Taylor's part-time. I say he stays.
Bill: Lelie's numbers were pretty solid going into last season, so he's a good fit for a team looking for a flier at wide receiver. San Diego will give him the opportunity to win the slot job when Keenan McCardell ... well, I'll get to that.
Bill: Well, I said Cincinnati would be signing Dwight Freeney before, so where does that leave Smith? Washington hasn't shown up too frequently in my picks, and they'll unquestionably make one or two signings. Smith fits in well there as a character guy.
Bill: There was some talk early in the season about Stallworth having a breakout season; he didn't, but he was a pretty competent #2 according to DVOA and DPAR. I think he stays with Philadelphia, which has the cap space to retain him and the need for him to stretch the field across from Reggie Brown.
Bill: If he does choose to leave Seattle, well, Seattle could officially move to the Run n' Shoot, which would undoubtedly be a positive thing. Let's see ... who likes picking up players from Seattle? Oh. Right. The team with Jermaine Wiggins at tight end. Minnesota, here's your new tight end.
Bill: Bennett was a nice story when he had his big year in 2004, but that's now his only season of real consequence in the NFL and he'll be 29 next season. He's no longer a breakout candidate, and Tennessee's smart enough to realize where they are on the success cycle and cut bait. I could see Bennett moving to Green Bay, where Greg Jennings went rapidly downhill after the first three weeks of the season and ended up with the third-worst DPAR among wideouts.
Bill: Curtis is sort of an anachronism at this point in the St. Louis offense. A better fit for him? Detroit! Tiny white wide receivers will be buzzing around Ford Field so fast that people will think it's a termite infestation.
Bill: It would be a pretty big PR hit to get rid of Horn, who was the face of the team during Katrina. Horn has to stay.
Bill: He of the preposterous career path might want to stick around one more year for a ring, but I think San Diego realizes that they can replace him with Eric Parker and Vincent Jackson and let the borderline Hall of Famer go. Where to go for that ring? Denver, where he'll replace a retiring Rod Smith.
Bill: Bait implies that he's something attractive that you would be lured toward. I'm not really sure if that's the case anymore. Moss was one of the worst wide receivers in football last year, and he hasn't been Randy Moss, really, since 2003. A good place for him to go? How about Jacksonville, where he could replace Reggie Williams and/or Ernest Wilford and could play with fellow Marshall alum Byron Leftwich?
Bill: Porter's nonexistent 2006 leaves him at his lowest value in several seasons -- this is an excellent opportunity for a team to acquire a very talented WR at a price below market value. The problem is that not many teams need wide receivers, and of those who do, New England's probably not very interested in getting another Oakland castoff. Porter attended West Virginia and is from DC ... Washington!
Bill: Johnson will leave because he wants to start. I see him replacing Jerramy Stevens on the H.M.S. Seattle.
Bill: Here's a typical sportswriter nonsense comment that might be true: If anyone knows the value of a good kicker, it's Marv Levy. I don't see any reason to think Lindell will go anywhere. He stays.
Bill: Likewise, Seattle values Brown pretty highly, from what I can tell. Brown might even end up getting franchised, but I think he'll re-sign before the free agent period begins.
Bill: Sauerbrun's hunting for Gramaticas! He smelled their scent in New England, but he was too late -- Indianapolis is next!
|Check out the Football Outsiders comics archive and Jason's wacky Gil Thorp blog.|
Bill: It is my debatable pleasure to crown Alex Carnevale this year's FO Playoff Fantasy Champion, as he beat Russell Levine by one point and Tim Gerheim by four.
Said Alex of his victory, "I'd like to thank God and Satan. God was instrumental, as he is the omnipotent force behind Bill Polian and the Dungmeister, and Satan was key in spawning Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft. I hold up Reche Caldwell's bulging eyeballs as proof of the latter, and the Colts' magical defense improvement as proof of the former. Now I will wait quietly for the FO corporate jet to take me on my dream vacation to Hawaii. See you at the Pro Bowl, Beelzebub!"
Actually, Alex might want to get onto the bus.
|2007 Football Outsiders Playoff Fantasy Teams|
As for the Best of the Rest competition, full marks to FO reader fourth, who got his picks in with two hours to spare and blew away the competition with an impressive 156 points. The runners-up were Andrew (AB) with 122 and Sid, whose 107 was the only other score to break the 100-point mark. Excellent job, gentlemen.
Ian: The only debate in this Super Bowl is who deserved to finish second in the Keep Choppin Wood Award voting. The winner was obviously none other than Cedric Benson, whose fumble, then injury forced the Bears to throw more often than they would have liked.
Of course, I jest. Rex Grossman was terrible. I fault the coaching staff for continuing to have him heave the ball downfield when it obviously wasn't working, but he just didn't come to play on Sunday. Fumbled snaps, bad passes, and terrible game management at the end (what was with all the underneath passing inbounds with time ticking away in the fourth quarter?) clearly combined to earn Rex Grossman this Super Bowl's Keep Choppin Wood Award!
Bill: I think an honorable mention here has to go to Danieal Manning. Too often during the game, Manning seemed entirely overwhelmed and simply unable to keep up with ... his opposition Manning. The Reggie Wayne touchdown stands out, but Manning was arguably as a big of a defensive cipher as Rex Grossman was an offensive one. I'd also be tempted to push a little negative recognition Ron Rivera's way, but he seems to have escaped a lot of the criticism in lieu of a media slag off for the Cover-2. Why? It's not as if it was a bad scheme all season ... after all, it won the Super Bowl for the Colts.
Ian: I've done this before, so I'll keep it short, but I must announce that my on-and-off relationship with Scramble for the Ball will return to "off" next season. I'll be doing other things, but I certainly know I'm leaving the column in good hands -- Thanks Bill, it's been a pleasure. Thanks also to Aaron, the rest of the Outsiders, FOX Sports for sponsoring the column, and of course to all of you readers who make the site possible (even you, Wanker79). Gotta give a shout-out to Al Bogdan, who got this whole thing started with me back in the day. And what better parting words than these: "Drew Bledsoe sucks."
Bill: Ah, Scramble. Ian may tell you he loves you, but he just moves on when better things come along. I, on the other hand, appreciate you and buy you nice things. Unfortunately, I have nary an intention of leaving this post. Y'all are stuck with me for at least another season. Thanks to everyone for reading, commenting, and to those people who sent us matchup question e-mails for their fantasy team each week, I hope the check's in the mail.
Oh, and who will be joining me next year? No idea yet.
78 comments, Last at 16 Feb 2007, 2:20am by Bill Barnwell