Four Downs
Offseason analysis of the NFL, division by division

Four Downs: AFC West

by Mike Tanier

Did you miss the first 2006 edition of Four Downs: AFC West? You'll find it here.

Denver Broncos

Movin' On Up

You know the details of the big trade: the Broncos gave up one of their two #1 picks -- the 29th overall -- along with a third-round pick this year and a fourth-round pick next year in exchange for the Falcons' #1 pick, the 15th selection in this year's draft. The Falcons then sent the Broncos' old pick to the Jets, who sent the Falcons John Abraham.

You also probably found a copy of that draft pick value table on the web. Yep, the Broncos got a sweet deal. That 15th selection is worth 1,050 points on that mysterious table. They gave up at most 880 points of draft value, and probably less, depending on the Broncos' 2006 record (and therefore, the value of that fourth-round selection).

So there's a good chance that the Broncos saw an opportunity to earn a tidy brokerage fee and made the deal without a specific first round agenda. But many experts believe that the Broncos have something up their sleeve. The Denver Post dissected the trade on March 22 with the help of the ubiquitous Mel Kiper. Kiper figured that the Broncos traded up to land a specific player who wouldn't be available 22nd overall, when the Broncos make their second selection of the round. Kiper mentioned two possible targets: Florida WR Chad Jackson and USC running back LenDale White.

Jackson would fill a need for a team that relies too much on aging Rod Smith, but Jackson could also be available 22nd overall. White is a Colorado native, so his name caused a stir in Denver. He's also a power back who would have a hard time finding a role now that Ron Dayne has been re-signed, and he has been a draftnik Mexican jumping bean, bouncing all over the first round because he didn't participate in the Combine and has a tendency to gain weight (USC Pro Day is April 2; we'll all know more then). So count White out for now.

Other observers are hoping the Broncos package the two first-round picks to move up. Dave Krieger of the Knoxville News-Sentinel noted this week that the Almighty Draft Chart equates sum of the 15th and 22nd picks with the fourth pick overall. That might be pushing it, but the Broncos could easily trade into the Top 10. Krieger wants either Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler or North Carolina State DE Mario Williams. Everybody covets Cutler these days -- let's face it, all of us know a lot about him after watching Vanderbilt so closely over the past three years -- but Williams would certainly be an asset in Denver.

This is all window-shopping, but Broncos observers all agree that the team is one or two true impact players away from getting over the playoff hump. They have no need to mess around with third- or fourth-round picks right now; the team is stocked with good starters and effective role players. Whether it's Jackson, Williams, or one of the players listed below, they need someone to provide an extra jolt. Trading up in the draft was a great move.

Recent Transactions

The Football Outsiders spin on the players coming and going from Denver:

Defensive Line Moves: The Broncos signed Gerard Warren to a six-year contract, then acquired yet another former Cleveland Browns lineman: Kenard Lang inked a three-year deal to come to Denver. Oh, and another: former Browns DE Amon Gordon also signed with Denver. Warren was the big prize from last year's Cleveland roster raid; Lang replaces Trevor Pryce in the starting lineup but can also drop into coverage as a DE/OLB hybrid. The Broncos' defense ranked 15th in the NFL in Adjusted Line Yards (explained here) and dead last in Adjusted Sack Rate, so they aren't finished making upgrades on the defensive line.

Ron Dayne: Dayne is the next Tyrone Wheatley. Wheatley was a power back from a Big 10 school who produced jaw-dropping stats at the NCAA level and was drafted in the first round by the Giants, just like Dayne. The Giants discovered that Wheatley had below-average instincts, rudimentary skills as a blocker and receiver, and no value on special teams, so they wrote him off and cut him loose, just as they did with Dayne. After a brief pit stop in Miami (Where he never played a regular season game), Wheatley landed in Oakland, where he was used, effectively, as a committee back. Dayne's instincts have improved, and he still runs with great power and above-average speed. Mike Shanahan won't dwell on what he can't do, and he won't be disappointed in what he gets if he gives Dayne about 10 touches per game, more when the Broncos are killing the clock.

Mike Leach: Gotta have a long-snapper.

Draft Preview

Lets's start with an overview of the names being tossed out by the Internet's mock draft community, in addition to those listed above: Kamerion Wimbley, DE/OLB, Florida State; Jason Allen, S, Tennessee; Tamba Hali, DE, Penn State; Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State; Davin Joseph, G, Oklahoma; Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota. The latest mock draft (version 5.0) lists Chad Jackson and Virginia Tech DB Jimmy Williams.

Many draftniks have Allen pegged as the ideal "second first-round pick" type of player: he has outstanding potential, but a 2005 hip injury makes him a huge risk. He and Williams are both safety/cornerback hybrids who could help most teams, but the Broncos invested heavily in their secondary last year. Hali and Wimbley are both logical choices who would upgrade the pass rush. Joseph is also a possibility, particularly with that second first-round selection; he's quick, smart, and well-suited to the Broncos scheme.

Assuming the Broncos don't spend an early-round pick on a running back (they won't), look for them to draft a runner on Day Two. Later picks will be used to create competition at wide receiver and round out the special teams.

Kansas City Chiefs

Priest's Vow of Silence

Priest Holmes is fine.

Don't believe it? Just ask him. He might tell you. But that's all he'll tell you.

Yes, the enigmatic Holmes is impersonating Johnny Tight Lips again. Does "fine" mean that the neurological tests he underwent in late February were negative? Does it mean that he's cleared to play? Does it mean that he plans to play? You can hear Holmes now: "Back injury? Who says I have a back?"

Holmes has kept the media and his team in the dark. Search the Internet long enough, and you'll be able to find some players' grocery lists, but accurate health information on Holmes is nonexistent. Even Holmes' immediate family is playing a guessing game, according to an article in the San Antonio Express last month. "He hasn't been carrying on as if he's going to play," Holmes' stepfather told the newspaper.

The Chiefs' offseason conditioning program began on Monday, and Holmes was one of the few no-shows. But that's nothing new: Holmes rarely earned any frequent flyer miles traveling to off-season functions in the past. "He'll be in and out, probably more 'out' than 'in,'" Herm Edwards told the Kansas City Star. In a March 28th report in the Florida Sun-Sentinel, columnist Ethan J. Skolnik says that Edwards isn't expecting Holmes to return.

The Chiefs are preparing for life without Holmes. Larry Johnson, of course, is now the team's featured back. Last week, the team signed Quentin Griffin as a possible backup to Johnson. Griffin had the greatest game of his career against the Chiefs, a 23-carry, 156-yard, two-touchdown effort in the 2004 season opener. Griffin then came down with a case of fumble-itis, and has spent the last two years getting cut and re-signed by the Broncos. Backs who fumble six times in 179 carries have a hard time finding work.

Then again, just how often will Johnson need a change-up runner? Johnson is big and durable, and he catches the ball well enough to be a weapon on third downs. If Holmes returns, Edwards will give him a role, and Griffin will be relegated to special teams. Even as the second-string running back, Holmes will find himself in and out of the team's gameplans. Probably more 'out' than 'in.'

Recent Transactions

The Football Outsiders spin on the players coming and going from Kansas City:

Defensive Line Re-signings: The Chiefs re-signed DT Lional Dalton and DE Carlos Hall. Neither player lit up the stat sheet last season, but Dalton was effective at clogging up the middle, while Hall forced a pair of fumbles while battling neck, back, and hamstring injuries. Dalton will start opposite either Ryan Sims or Junior Siavaii; Hall is better suited to come off the bench as a pass rusher. At press time, the team was negotiating a contract extension for Jared Allen, their best defensive lineman. Smart move.

Huard and Collins: After backup quarterback Todd Collins signed with the Redskins, the team placed a premium on re-signing third-stringer Damon Huard, who eventually inked a one-year deal. Huard has thrown one pass in the last five years (incomplete), so he's a blank slate. The Chiefs may be in the market for a developmental passer, but keep your eye on James Kilian, the former Tulsa quarterback who is playing in Europe this spring.

Tony Richardson: The longtime Chiefs fullback who once blocked for Marcus Allen signed with the Minnesota Vikings last week. Richardson used to get a few touches per game as a change-up to Priest Holmes, but when Larry Johnson took over, Richardson was used exclusively as a blocker. Look for the Chiefs to use more two-tight end sets this season in an effort to get Kris Wilson more involved in the offense.

Kendell Garmon: Gotta have a long-snapper.

Draft Preview

An overview of the names being tossed out by the internet's mock draft community: Tye Hill, CB, Clemson (the current pick); Ashton Youboty, CB, Ohio State; Jonathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina; Gabe Watson, DT, Michigan; Tamba Hali, DE, Penn State.

What, no running backs?

Seriously, the Chiefs obviously need either a cornerback to pair with Patrick Surtain or a defensive lineman to improve their overall pass rush. Youboty is very similar to fellow Buckeye Chris Gamble, who blossomed in his second season with the Panthers. Youboty has a rep for brain cramps and confidence lapses, but Surtain and Herm Edwards will be able to help him through the tough times. Hill and Joseph are also good fits; it may come down to who is available in the #20 slot.

The Chiefs need help at wide receiver, and they need depth on the offensive line. If Kilian doesn't impress in Europe, the Chiefs may select a quarterback like Fresno State's Paul Pinnegar at the end of Day Two. Don't be surprised if the team also picks up a kicker near the end of the draft, as Lawrence Tynes nearly drove Dick Vermeil to distraction in training camp last year.

Oakland Raiders

Ranch Guessing

When researching the background of a new offensive coordinator, you don't expect to wind up at a Bed 'n' Breakfast blog. But that's exactly where the routine Football Outsiders background check led us for new Raiders offensive coordinator Tom Walsh.

Walsh was a Raiders assistant throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. He was their offensive coordinator in Art Shell's final year with the team; the Raiders finished 19th in the NFL in points and 17th in total yards under Walsh in 1994. When Shell and his staff were fired, Walsh disappeared from the NFL scene.

Walsh resurfaced in 1996 as the head coach of the Idaho State Bengals. The team finished 3-8 in their first season under Walsh. When the Bengals started the 1998 season 2-6, Walsh was fired.

Walsh soon reappeared as the head coach and director of football operations for the Mobile Admirals in something called the Regional Football League. The RFL billed itself as the "major league of spring football," but it lasted just one season. The Admirals went 6-2 and won the only championship in RFL history, defeating the Houston Outlaws 14-12.

When the RFL folded, Walsh left the bright lights and pressure of spring football. He became owner and proprietor of the Hansen Guest Ranch in Swan Valley, Idaho. Bed 'n' breakfast aficionados and avid fly fishermen know all about the Hansen Guest Ranch; the place is, by all accounts, sweet. "Featured on this scenic property is a 110-year-old barn that recently has been renovated to include three downstairs suites, each with a queen size bed and a private bath," says the resort's website. "The loft includes a spacious area with whiteboards suitable for meetings as well as a lounge and a big screen TV. The remodeled Wrangler's Cottage is the original 'hired man's' house, and its spacious floor plan includes two bedrooms, each with a queen size bed, one bath, a sitting area with a pull-out sofa and a kitchenette with a microwave and a mini refrigerator."

We had to quote the ranch website, as the Raiders website is understandably reticent about Walsh's recent whereabouts. "Walsh most recently held the post of head coach at Idaho State," the site demurs. You know, "recently." Like 1998.

The official team site is also quiet about how Walsh's last tenure with the team ended. Walsh was loyal to Shell during the 1993 season, when several other Raiders coaches wanted Shell fired. Late in the season, as the Raiders were piling up 50 sacks and 146 penalties (an NFL record), quarterback Jeff Hostetler stopped listening to Shell and Walsh and began to call his own plays.

Readers can make their own conclusions about the Walsh hiring. We don't have DVOA or DPAR figures for the early 1990s or a Regional Football-to-NFL projection system.* And while Hansen Guest Ranch earned a 45.6 QBAR rating (Queen-sized Beds Above Replacement) in 2005, that doesn't tell us much about the Raiders. Maybe Walsh has been breaking down film in the 110-year old barn for six years. Maybe this is just a cash grab for one of Shell's buddies. One thing is sure: it's the highest-profile innkeeper-to-sports-coach transition since Manchester United hired Basil Fawlty back in 1983.

*(Ed. note: It's on my project list, right after the Eastern Football League-to-NFL projection system. Don't sleep on those Marlborough Shamrocks.)

Recent Transactions

The Football Outsiders spin on the players coming and going from Oakland:

Aaron Brooks: Many observers believe that the Raiders will draft Vince Young, and that Brooks will mentor (snicker) the young passer, imparting his vast wealth of football knowledge (snort) and helping Young develop into a great decision ma ... (burst into tearful laughter).

Brooks is very similar to Kerry Collins: both are rifle-armed, both avoid injuries and rack up impressive passing stats, both are turnover-prone. Key differences: 1) Brooks has the scrambling ability to run away from (and into) trouble. 2) When Collins was forced to deviate from the script, he would take a sack or throw a 30-yard interception. When Brooks deviates from the script, he does something interesting, like lateral the ball to his right tackle.

Secondary Changes: The Raiders lost Renaldo Hill to free agency but signed Tyrone Poole, a 34-year-old who has been healthy for six games in the past two seasons, and Duane Starks, a 32-year-old (in May) who has been healthy for 22 games in the last three years. Poole was very effective for the Patriots in 2003, and Starks showed he still had something left in seven starts for the Patriots last year. Between the two of them, the Raiders may have one starting cornerback to replace Charles Woodson. Hill was a starter for most of last season, playing a CB-safety hybrid position in the 4-2-5 scheme Rob Ryan used for much of the year. Ryan hopes to scrap the 4-2-5 this season as an early-down defense.

Ronald Curry: The Raiders re-signed the forever-injured Curry to a cap-friendly deal. The Raiders are deep at wide receiver, but if Curry can stay healthy, Shell and Walsh will be able to deploy a deadly four-wideout formation.

Draft Preview

An overview of the names being tossed out by the internet's mock draft community, in addition to Young (who gets the nod in the latest mock draft): Michael Huff, DB, Texas; Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland, Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon; DE Mario Williams, North Carolina State.

All of these players qualify as "Al Davis types," because they are the biggest, fastest, or strongest at their positions (Davis loves superlatives). Vernon Davis makes no sense for a team that already has too many receiving threats, but the devil will get his due if he wants another top athletic specimen. Huff is an outstanding athlete who can play cornerback or safety, and the Raiders need both. Ngata wouldn't be a bad selection; you can never have too many defensive tackles. Williams would also fit: the Raiders have depth on the defensive line, so the gifted-but-raw pass rusher wouldn't be asked to do too much as a rookie.

As for Young, well, he might be too good to pass up if he is on the board at #7. But didn't the Raiders select Andrew Walter with a third round pick last year?

The Raiders need to add depth on the offensive line and at linebacker. One mock draft has the team selecting UTEP linebacker Thomas Howard in the second round. Howard is very quick and fast but doesn't have a natural position and has a rep for making mental mistakes. Sounds like a Raiders defender to me.

San Diego Chargers

The Fractured Front Office

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith and coach Marty Schottenheimer spent much of early March engaged in a bitter war of words, spilling invective across the pages of the San Diego Union Tribune, the North County Times, and other Southern California newspapers. Eventually, team president Dean Spanos called them both into his office and dressed them down. Case closed ... for now.

The Drew Brees/Philip Rivers controversy was at the center of the dispute: Marty wanted Brees, Smith preferred Rivers. The larger issue was a lack of communication between the veteran coach and a well-regarded member of the NFL's executive community. Smith reputedly has an inner circle of confidents, and Schottenheimer isn't part of it.

Most news outlets gave the story a predictable spin: Schottenheimer is an obstructionist martinet, unwilling to embrace the forward-thinking, cap-conscious philosophies of the more progressive Smith. With former offensive line coach Carl Mauck still taking schotts at Schottenheimer over his dismissal, it was easy to point fingers at the head coach.

But the "Smith is right, Marty is wrong" slant doesn't add up. Since when does it make sense to let a reliable starting quarterback skip town with no compensation? Rivers may be ready to step up, but when we last watched him, he still looked a little like Foster Brooks leaving the bar at closing time whenever he dropped back to pass. The kid is clumsy. But with Ben Roethlisberger winning a Super Bowl and Eli Manning developing nicely, the GM may have decided to push up the timetable for his hand-picked prospect. Brees indicated several times this offseason that he felt someone in the organization was pushing him out the door, and that "someone" was the guy who drafted the other quarterback.

Smith and Schottenheimer can share blame for what became an ugly situation. Smith could have put together a sign-and-trade package if he insisted on moving Brees, and Marty shouldn't have gone public with his frustrations. What's sad is that two smart football men are fighting over some tiny turf: a "franchise turnaround" that consists of 21 wins in two years and one playoff appearance. If they cannot get along, the Chargers could easily slip back into their 4-12 funk. Smith is taking a heck of a gamble; it stands to reason that Schottenheimer is keeping his eyes on his chips. United, the Chargers stand. You know the rest.

Recent Transactions

The Football Outsiders spin on the players coming and going from San Diego:

Aaron Shea: Shea is an H-back who will replace tight end Justin Peelle, who signed with the Dolphins. Shea is a reliable receiver in the flat and an effective pass blocker. Look for the Chargers to run lots of two-tight end sets, with Shea staying in to block while Antonio Gates has all the fun.

Marlon McCree: McCree signed a five-year deal with the Chargers. He's a tough-but-undersized safety who reads plays well and makes a lot of tackles in run support. He's rarely injured, so the Chargers shouldn't have to play musical chairs in the secondary this year, but they still need help at cornerback. McCree can play either safety position, but he has a strong safety's mentality.

Departures: WR Reche Caldwell and LB Ben Leber were second and third round picks in the 2002 draft; A.J. Smith took over the following season, though he had a hand in the 2002 selections (Peelle was also drafted in 2002). Both Caldwell and Leber showed flashes of potential, but Caldwell couldn't beat Eric Parker for the #2 receiver spot last year, and Leber will be adequately replaced by Shaun Philips (and, of course, Shawne Merriman). The Chargers now only have Quentin Jammer to show for their 2002 draft, and Jammer hasn't developed into a shut-down cornerback.

Draft Preview

An overview of the names being tossed out by the internet's mock draft community: Jonathan Joseph, CB, South Carolina (the current FoxSports pick); Eric Winston, tackle, Miami; Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State; Chad Jackson, WR, Florida; Tye Hill, CB, Clemson; Donte Whitner, S, Ohio State.

A quick note about most mock drafters: they have zero memory. The Chargers selected WR Vincent Jackson as a project in the second round last year, and while he battled injuries and was slow to catch on, he's still in the team's plans. Mock drafters tend to forget that teams (successful ones, anyway) often draft a year or two ahead of their needs. The Chargers may draft a receiver on Day One, but not in Round One.

The other picks make more sense, though Winston would be a reach with the 19th pick. Whitner and McCree would make a fine 1-2 punch at safety: Whitner has the skills of a cornerback and can cover most slot receivers. The speedy-but-undersized Hill would also fill a need, as would Youboty. Basically, if he plays cornerback, the Chargers need him.

The Chargers need offensive linemen and defensive backs but are deep at most other positions, thanks in part to Schottenheimer's ability to get the most from late draft picks and street free agents. If wheeler-dealer Smith needs to trade up a few spots to get the player he wants, the Chargers won't hesitate to move their second- or third-round pick.

Next Tuesday: NFC South by Darrel Michaud


87 comments, Last at 14 Apr 2006, 2:09am

1 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

There have been a couple of Brees/Rivers debates here and lots on other websites, but thanks for making a point I have yet to see anyone making. The fact that Smith was willing to let Brees go and get zip in return is clear indication that Smith's primary focus was ensuring there was no chance whatsoever that Brees would start for San Diego this fall.

2 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Starks showed he still had something left in seven starts for the Patriots last year.

Was that a joke? All I can remember is Aaron trashing him last year.

4 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Aaron Brooks: Many observers believe that the Raiders will draft Vince Young, and that Brooks will mentor (snicker) the young passer, imparting his vast wealth of football knowledge (snort) and helping Young develop into a great decision ma … (burst into tearful laughter).

I guess I wasn't the only one who found this midly entertaining as well huh?

5 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

The Browns ranked third in ALY on runs to the left def. end, but 30th in runs to the right def. end. I'm guessing Kenard Lang was the former?

On the other hand, Cleveland ranked 28th last year in adjusted sack rate.

7 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

The Smith/Schottenheimer situation reminds me a great deal of the Donahoe/Cowher feud of '99, especially with the Marty/Cowher connection. Only difference being that in the Steelers case, it was over who was responsible for two consecutive losing seasons, not consecutive winning seasons.

8 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Bah on the quotes. One more time.

Mike Shanahan: 'Without a question. With 15 and 22, you definitely have a chance to get in the top 10 if that guy is there. In fact, we're going to get Vince Young.'

He laughed, after that comment, for what that's worth. He's supposed to love Mr. Wonderlic 15.

I expect the Broncos to take a WR with one of their first round picks, unless they trade for Javon Walker (which is apparently being negotiated), and a DE with the other pick. Those are the clearest holes on the team.

And I'm one of the fans watching this influx of Cleveland linemen with a great deal of unease. *sigh*

9 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

re #2 - zip:

I'm with you. Had to re-read that 3 times to try and find a joke that isn't there.

Tanier, what are you thinking man!!!

10 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

So now the Radiers cry will be:

'Excellence through mediocrity and queen size beds'?

11 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Anybody else here see the name,

12 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

grrr... quotes. What I meant to say was:

Did anybody else here see the name, 'Youboty', and immediately think of Buckaroo Bonzai?

13 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Excellent, an English soccer/comedy reference on FO.

14 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Brees indicated several times this offseason that he felt someone in the organization was pushing him out the door, and that “someone� was the guy who drafted the other quarterback.

This seems to be a very common mistake. A.J. Smith drafted Eli Manning. Ernie Accorsi drafted Phillip Rivers.

15 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

With all that's been written about the hire of Tom Walsh, it's amazing to me that I haven't seen one article on how exactly that hire came about. I mean the mechanics of it, who else (if anyone) was considered, why he specifically was the best man for the job, etc. There's a real chance for a good journalistic scoop there for some enterprising sports reporter.

As a related aside, I'd also be interested in learning the story behind the Raiders hire of Michigan State's Jim McElwain as QB coach. That also would be an interesting story, especially since McElwain has been a WR and ST coach since at least 1999. But there hasn't been one word (as far as I know) about why he specifically was tapped for the job. Come on reporters, do your thing!

- Alaska Jack

17 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Damn, the quotes thing causes trouble for writers too.

And despite the lack of red ink, it is me, Tanier. I am at school.

2 and 9: Had a case of the 'too nice' illness this week. I meant to say that Starks showed 'he had a little something left' or 'very little left.' Anyway, like I said: Poole + Starks = maybe one decent CB, no better than Renaldo Hill. 14: Yep! Should've said 'selected.' 15: To the best of my knowledge, the Tom Walsh hiring wasn't the result of any diligent nationwide search for candidates. The fact that Walsh hasn't spoken to the media and the Raiders themselves are trying to downplay the hiring suggests that they just grabbed someone Shell feels comfortable with.

18 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

11 & 12:

I don't know about that, but does anyone else see the name 'Haloti Ngata' and start singing it in their head to the tune of 'Hava Nagila?'

19 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

#18 - almost - it actually makes me think of that stupid song from 'The Lion King'. (Which, of course, is now stuck in my head, thankyouverymuch).

20 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Haloti Ngata,
What a wonderful name
Haloti Ngata,
Sure thing for the Hall of Fame

It means no worries
for the rest of your days,
A problem-free, man at DT.

21 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

17: MikeT, yup, but the fact that you say 'to my knowledge' and 'suggests' reinforces my point that this story really hasn't been told yet. A good reporter should try to get that story -- How exactly did it come about that Walsh was plucked from NFL oblivion?

And I don't mean it should be presented in a hostile way. If Shell picked Walsh because it's someone he's comfortable with, he shouldn't be ashamed to say so -- he should just explain why that relationship is so important to a head coach, or something like that. Just be forthright about it and don't act like it's some big coverup or something.

Then the enterprising reporter could develop it further. 'Was the fact that Walsh has been out of the league so long a concern? A common perception is that he would be 'behind the times' in terms of NFL tactics -- is that the case? If not, why not? If so, how do you plan to approach that?' etc. etc.

Maybe it's just me, but I think that would be a fascinating in-depth story or interview.

- Alaska Jack

23 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Edit to previous post (#21) -- Mike, I didn't mean to demean you by suggesting that you weren't a 'good reporter' -- AFAIK, you aren't a reporter at all. I just meant SOME good reporter.

- AJ

24 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

'When Brooks deviates from the script, he does something interesting, like lateral the ball to his right tackle.'

can anyone describe where/when/how this play happened?

25 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I watched that game. Nonetheless, I can't possibly put into words the stupidity of that play.

RE: Denver's potential top 10 draft pick. Vernon Davis. Done deal.

26 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

RE 24: Brooks got discombobulated and tried to (backward) pass to a lineman. The lineman threw up his hands and refused the offering. Ball rolls up field... I roll in hysterics... Duce runs to recover said ball 20 some odd yards behind the line of scrimmage. Brooks smiles the

27 Re: Four Downs: AFC West


'who me?' smile. The raiders are suckers on this one but that's ok, I hat them since 1962 (AFL old guy).

28 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

#1: The fact that Smith was willing to let Brees go and get zip in return is clear indication that Smith’s primary focus was ensuring there was no chance whatsoever that Brees would start for San Diego this fall.

Really? I don't think it would have been as inevitable as that--Brees' recovery permitting, of course. I mean, if it was going to be so easy for Smith to sit Brees down, how'd he play against the Broncos?

29 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Alaska Jack: No offense taken. I don't have the resources to get deep insider info from the Raiders. I would guess that the writers at the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle are getting stonewalled, despite their best efforts to shake loose some dirt.

30 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Dave - I think you misunderstood: that's kind of the point Mr. Colt was making (I think). His suggestion was that Smith wanted to deny Marty even the slightest chance to start Brees, which he could only do by letting him walk - if he'd franchised him, maybe no trade would have been forthcoming (unlikely, but there we go).

31 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Is there a video clip of Brooks chucking the ball backwards somewhere out there on the internet? I've looked but have never managed to find one.

32 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Is this the same A.J. Smith that suspended Antonio Gates for one game this year? Was that somebody else's doing?

33 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Adam T, you're in luck.

Good luck = I have a video clip of that Saints/Chargers game.

Bad luck = It is 734 MB, and I have no idea how to cut out the lateral part, nor do I know how to get it anybody that wants to see it.

If somebody could post instructions, I would be more than happy to preserve this moment for posterity.

34 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

jim's apple/adam t, we're all in luck!

my wife used to edit independent films, so she can help. but she needs to know the format (file extension) of your video clip first. any idea?

35 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

re 5. That's a facinating stat, and I think it's down to the difference between LDE Orpheus Roye, who was excellent last year, and RDE Alvin McKinley who was ropey.

Lang played R/S OLB, and probably helped to contribute to that: certainly his run stopping should be better than the average OLB given his weight. That wasn't enough to make up for his poor play in coverage though, nor the suprisingly poor pass rush skills he showed last year.

36 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

TMPGENC handles pretty much everything and has very simple interface:

37 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

When I checked last night by hovering over the file, it just said

38 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Oops, sorry about the double quote use. It said 'Video clip'. I'll look into it when I get off of work today.

39 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Raiders look like a train wreck. Reminds me of the story I keep telling...

Some young QB (1-2 years ago) said he thought he was as good as Brooks. Brooks (hereafter referred to as

40 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

GREATNESS... answered back that the young QB would have to do a lot to achieve the same level of greatness that Brooks had achieved.

...uh... temporary starter on a last place team?

41 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Does anyone besides me think the Chargers will stink next year? Even if Brees never plays good again, I still think the Chargers have bad kharma with the coach/GM situation, and the media will go crazy if Rivers takes a while to get going.

43 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

See, I think Rivers will over some time develop into a pretty good QB, which is sad since A.J. Smith totally screwed up on this one. Smith has been a very good G.M. otherwise, but if he chases Schottenheimer out, that's dangerous. That said, the Chiefs are weakened and the Raiders are still terrible. It's the Broncos division, and the Chiefs and Chargers will compete for a wild card berth.

44 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Chargers - 10-6 with Rivers at the helm.
Brees was a good QB, but it's time to move on.
Marty and AJ need to get over it and concentrate on fielding a winner.

45 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Aaron being Aaron. The next week vs DEN his no-look INT for a TD near his goalline was equally impressive.

Chargers: 11-5 with Rivers

46 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Vwry nice article, very funny.

It's sad to see how far the Raiders have fallen. Davis has clearly lost it, maybe he should take up drinking. Now that Norv is gone, he should get Terry Robiskie's phone number....

The Brees fiasco. Need I say more?

Denver seems a player or two away from the Superbowl... then there are all those ex-Cleveland Browns players on defense. Huh? Am I missing something? Ron Dayne isn't going to get them anywhere; Santonio Holmes might, however.

I like Kansas City, they seem to need less help than the others.

47 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

They gave up at most 880 points of draft value, and probably less, depending on the Broncos’ 2006 record (and therefore, the value of that fourth-round selection).

Past trades suggest that a draft pick this year is worth about half what a draft pick next year is worth. Thus, the table suggests a range of 790 to 824, with the likelihood being that it will lean towards the bottom.

Apparently, the Falcons valued Abraham at 720 points but the Jets only valued him at 640 points. Nice bit of arbitrage by the Broncos there.

48 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

'a draft pick this year is worth about half what a draft pick next year is worth'

You meant the other way round, right?

But yup, it's your friend and mine the GM's Fallacy: 'a little good now is as good as a lot of good later.'

49 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

'a little good now is as good as a lot of good later.'

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

50 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

The Chargers will be no better than 8-8. I mean, 11-5? That's better than they did last year!

51 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

[I]t’s down to the difference between LDE Orpheus Roye, who was excellent last year, and RDE Alvin McKinley who was ropey.

52 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I don't believe I read this whole thread and still used double quotes. Anyway, I meant to say:

[I]t’s down to the difference between LDE Orpheus Roye, who was excellent last year, and RDE Alvin McKinley who was ropey.

'Ropey'? That's a new one on me. Please explain.

53 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

This Chargers Brees/Rivers scenario has me in stitches, as a Broncos fan.

Let's see... you look for the quarterback you can base your franchise on. You spend a very high pick on Ryan Leaf. He's a collosal bust and sets you back a decade. You spend a moderately high pick on Drew Brees. He's very good, goes to a Pro Bowl, earns Comeback Player of the Year, etc. You spend a very high pick on Phillip Rivers (or rather, for the compulsive-fact checkers in the house, you trade a player that you spent a very high pick on). You shuffle Drew Brees out of town and put Rivers in.

Didn't Ryan Leaf teach you a lesson? Yes, Rivers was a top-4 pick. SO WAS RYAN LEAF. Predicting QB success is a crapshoot, and your franchise is the cautionary tale that proves it. So do you stick with the sure thing? Nope, you go with the high pick again.

I sincerely hope that Rivers goes all Ryan Leaf on us and Brees makes the pro bowl again within the next 2 years, just so we can return to using San Diego as the butt of all NFL jokes once more.

55 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Chargers are looking at 7-9 or 8-8 after starting 0-4 or so. I think Rivers will really stink out of the gate and then will get better in mid-October.

56 Re: Four Downs: AFC West


Would you really call a guy coming off shoulder surgery on his throwing arm a sure thing?

57 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I'm a Raiders fan (c'mon, I grew up in a trailer park) and the last 3 years have made me feel like the poor Saints fans that used to wear paper bags to the games. I was at the Chiefs@Raiders sunday night game last year and watched Oakland avoid Randy Moss at all costs down the stretch at clutch-time. If Oakland drafts Vince Young, I don't know what I'll do. Oakland doesn't need more unintelligent athletic specimens. Someone with a brain needs to direct these idiots. (I'm hoping for Jay Cutler.)

The only solace I find is that Al Davis can't live forever. I bet Randy Moss is really thrilled he came to Oakland.

58 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Would you really call a guy coming off shoulder surgery on his throwing arm a sure thing?

No, of course not. Which is why the Chargers should've offered Brees a contract exactly like what the Saints did. They could've even been a little more creative, like guaranteeing the second year (Brees' contract with the Saints has a huge bonus due the second year) based on performance in case he tanks.

If nothing else, Brees clearly knows the Chargers' offense. Letting him go was really silly: if Brees tanks this year, he still has more value to the Chargers as a backup than another random backup would.

Regardless, the Chargers will know about 3 or 4 weeks into the season whether or not they made a huge mistake.

59 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Well . . . they'll know if Brees recovered or not. They probably won't really know about Rivers at that point, though, and if Rivers turns out to be a better player than Brees down the stretch the decision won't look quite so bad (though they should still have tried to work some sort of trade).

60 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

If Brees has recovered, they're insane for letting Brees go, no matter what happens with Rivers. The trade they could've gotten - even if Rivers ends up being competent - would've been very, very significant. Does anyone doubt that they could've gotten a first-round pick for Brees if he had a year like he had the past two?

Although, amusingly enough, the Chargers ended up so far ahead thanks to the crazy Eli Manning trade that this might just end up 'balancing the scales', so to speak.

61 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I've been thinking about the Brees-Rivers debate and its similarities to the Kitna-Palmer debate a couple of years ago. I think the difference is in this case, the coach supported the other guy, who was still young and in his prime, whereas in Palmer's case the coach was supporting the young guy and the other guy was just starting the natural downslide of his career.

62 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

hey green bay for life ! i wouldnt talk if i were u bigshot..your packers arent doing that well either and im pretty sure if Favre remains on the team, you could be the worst team in the league this year

63 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

RE 62


GB made playoffs 13 straight seasons, won either NFC Central or NFC North Crown 12 of those years. Won 1 superbowl and lost another. Consistantly sell out all of their home games. What has Okalnad done these past ten years. Oh Yeah have thier home games blacked out because they can't sell out. go to a superbowl against thier former HC and don't change a bloddy play. Yea there is alot of similarities there. I can talk big if I want to it is my opinion. And one bad season does not a true fan worry about.

But three in a row?.... I might get a little concerned.

64 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Well, I think you're about to get the second. Regardless of Favre's decision, you have a terrible O-line, a bad defense, and a first-time head coach whose record as a co-ordinator is shaky as best, and who was hired solely to placate a declining, super-annuated quarterback who may not return in any case, while your best offensive player is coming off a serious injury and flat out refusing to ever play for the franchise again. That's not a pretty situation. You guys could be worse than the '9ers.

65 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

And if they get Charles Woodson, that won't help matters.

66 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

#45 Squirrel - thanks!

Here's my take as a Bolts fan on the whole QB/management disaster. AJ Smith has put himself in a win/win situation - either Rivers makes him look like a genius, or the team sucks and Schotty gets fired. Either is fine with me. I wouldn't mind bringing in a coach that doesn't forget how to coach come playoff time.

67 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Well I can still have hope right?


68 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Speaking as someone who when the Texans started last season 0-4 was still confidently predicting a rally to at least a 6-10 finish, I think it would be a bit hypocritical of me to try to deny you that priviledge, yes.

69 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

RE 66

That is pretty damn ruthless, but come to think about it you could probably say the same thing about a few coaches in the league. Tony Dungee comes to mind, but I put that in the arms of Peyton more than him, and then of course Mike Sherman my teams ex coach. got to the playoffs but could never get past the second round.

70 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

RE 64

Unfortunatly I will have to concede that we may be looking at a repeat of the early 90's late 80's GB packers. Had a very good QB start to decline and then brought in a rookie that had a horrible year in 91, improved a little bit in 92 but not enough to warrant him staying, then traded for our new found hero in Brett Favre. so I will concede, and I have on other post to FO that I feel that GB will not be competitive until the 2008 to possibly 2009 season. so I will wallow in my mediocrity for the next couple of years, and watch in misery as Aarron Rodgers gets killed becuase they can't get a Decent O-line.

Hey I know I can call Aarron Rodgers 'Daivd Carr Light' ;-)

71 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Please, please, can we let the 'records of coaches in the postseason as a metric for judging them' thing die? Please? Please?

The sample size is small.
The samples are biased.
Losing is considered worse than not getting in.

Do I need to list more?

Let me put it this way: Schottenheimer's coaching record in the playoffs is 5-12. That's an 0.294 winning percentage. It could conceivably take him only 2 years to get back to 0.500.

For comparison, Bill Belichick's coaching record in the playoffs is 11-2, or a winning percentage of 0.846. It would take him at least nine years to get back to 0.500.

Coaches who win a Super Bowl early in their career (or, more precisely, early in their postseason careers) have a high winning percentage. Coaches who do not have a low winning percentage.

In addition, by not punishing teams that don't make the playoffs (and not crediting teams that get a first round bye) it tends to inflate certain types of teams and GMs.

There's just nothing useful in looking at a coach's winning percentage in the playoffs. Can we please, please let it die?

72 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

#71 Pat - I had no idea what Schotty's playoff record was. I was judging him on the idiotic ultra-conservative game management that he likes to use when the pressure is on. I shouldn't have said 'playoffs' because he does it in the regular season too. Take a look at that Jets game where they almost let Brooks Bollinger lead a double-digit comeback effort. Marty's been calling games this way since the late 80s, so I have little reason to believe he's going to change his philosophy anytime soon.

If you need something more scientific, everything I've read from Krasker on footballcommentary seems to come to the same conclusion, that

73 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

'playing not to lose' (pardon the cliche) really does decrease your chances of winning.

74 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

That's a much better criticism. Note that my response was as much to #69 as #66: while Schottenheimer's conservative style may not fare well, and so there really might be criticism there, it's not due to his record.

75 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

RE 74

But I even said in my criticism of Our ex coach and tony dungee that in the case of Tony Dungee I do not fault him I put most of the blame on Peyton Manning for 'choking' in alomost every post season game he has played in. As far as Mike Sherman goes, he had one of if not the most prolific Green Bay offenses to ever take the field in 2004. Brett for only the third time in carrer had over 4000 passing yards with over 30 TD's. You had Javon walker have a break out year along with Donald Driver also racking up over 1,000 ydss recieving, and then you had Ahman Green gain almost 1700 yds on the ground. Had the best O-line in packers history allowing a franchise low 6 sacks in the regular season. Now I will give that the defense was a tad on the bad side but we had rookie ILB Nick Barnett record over 100 tackels, 4 sacks, and IIRC 3 Int. we had just aquired Al HArris as a CB we had KJB on the left and just recently aquired Kampman on the right side as DE. so you tell me Pat, we had a very good and solid team yet we loose to Atlanta in the first round, why becuase Mike refused to call a game and just sat back and tried to play conservitive like he had also done for most of the year.

76 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

The 2004 Green Bay Packers defense was more than a 'tad on the bad' side. Remember the GB-PHI game?

And everyone was setting offensive records in 2004.

sat back and tried to play conservitive like he had also done for most of the year.

Wait - so playing it conservative during the year leads to one of the 'most prolific offenses in Green Bay's history', but during the postseason, it's bad?

yet we loose to Atlanta in the first round

Okay, now, I'm a bit confused. Stem your hatred of Mike Sherman for a moment.

In 2004, Green Bay lost to Minnesota in the first round. Minnesota had a much, much more prolific offense than Green Bay's.

Ahman Green, in 2004, rushed for only 1100 yards.

Green Bay gave up 14 sacks during the regular season.

What year were you thinking of? Green Bay went out in exactly the round I expected them to in 2004 - the first.

You're not thinking about 2003, either, because Green Bay lost in the second round that year.

Are you thinking of 2002? That's when Green Bay lost to Atlanta in the first round. Of course, Atlanta was a freaking good team that year. Green Bay also gave up 27 sacks during the regular season. Ahman Green didn't rush for 1700 yards that year, either.

So I have no idea what year you're thinking of.

77 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

RE 76

I am sorry i confused you, but all of those years when we seemed to have a decent team all we could do is 'maybe' get to the second round so it all seemed to blur together. All in all it was just a very poor post season under him. we have and had the tools to outscore any opponet we faced. It just seems ironic that we have a good run during the regular season and then everything falls apart in the postseason. But as an Eagles fan I know you feel my pain when you saw the Eagles fall three straight years in the NFC Title Game. and for the record I belive I was recalling the 20-03 season but Favre did not have over 4000 yards passing but he did have over 30 tds for the umpteenith time. And I forgot about the 2004 playoffs against Min even though I got a kick out of the Randy Moss Mooning.

78 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

In fairness, it does seem like there are some coaches who perform disproportionately badly or well in the post-season for reasons other than luck. It seems to me that post-season play, by its knock-out nature, rewards opponent-specific game-planning to a greater extent than regular season play - witness Carolina's torching of Chicago's historically good defence, followed by their pitiful failure against Seattle's less imposing one. Lovie Smith's pig-headed failure to adjust his defensive scheme for his opponent probably cost his team a place in the championship game. Some coaches may be (un)lucky, but others are good or bad game-planners. Some (Belichick) are both lucky and good game-planners.

79 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

But as an Eagles fan I know you feel my pain when you saw the Eagles fall three straight years in the NFC Title Game.

Yes, but only once was I upset: the Carolina game. The other two games (St. Louis and Tampa Bay) it wasn't because of bad coaching, or bad luck - they were just better teams.

And I couldn't blame it on the coach in 2003 either: quarterback injuries just kill you. Ask the 2005 Bengals about that.

That's kinda the thing, though - the Packers haven't fallen to bad teams. They've just not quite been as good as the teams they've played.

Now, if you want a coach who, recently, I would've said 'what the...?' regarding his postseason performance - it would've been Mike Holmgren and the Seahawks. There's no way they should've lost to the Rams in 2004. No freaking way.

In fairness, it does seem like there are some coaches who perform disproportionately badly or well in the post-season for reasons other than luck.

While it might be possible that this is true, I don't think it can ever be anything but unfounded opinion. It's just impossible to discern it. It's perfectly possible to criticize Lovie Smith, for instance, but how much was his fault, and how much was the fact that he was playing a playoff-caliber team?

Keep in mind: at least 4 coaches a year will have a losing record in the playoffs (first round losers). At least 8 coaches a year will not have a winning record in the playoffs (first+second round losers). A maximum of 4 coaches in a year can possibly have a winning record in the playoffs, and most years it's less than that.

There will always seem like there are coaches which do poorly in the playoffs, simply because most coaches do end up doing poorly in the playoffs.

80 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

re 79

OK I will give you that and I happen to agree with you on the 2004 Seahawks, but if you hven't figured it out quite yet I blame Coach Sherman for the prediciment we are in now. Coach Holmgen 'coached' Brett he did not codle him like Coach Sherman has these past years and I think that is why Brett is still wishy washy on retiring. I am hoping that Brett does retire. He needs to move on we are rebuilding on a massive scale. We took a QB in the first round last year that from all accounts has some decent potential to be a good QB in the NFL. we have a chance this year in the draft to get some very good players. We have a young Head Coach and he needs some people that will 'listen' to him and not go out and think they are still the young gunslinger he was 5-6 years ago. Don't get me wrong Brett was a tremendous QB in his prime. A Guarneteed HoF with his stats, but it is time for us as a team and fans to move on the the Rodgers Era.

81 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

but if you hven’t figured it out quite yet I blame Coach Sherman for the prediciment we are in now.

I agree with you. But thinking that Sherman is a good coach who couldn't coach in the playoffs is nuts.

He was a bad coach all the time.

We took a QB in the first round last year that from all accounts has some decent potential to be a good QB in the NFL.

(except, like, all the accounts I've heard...)

82 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

RE 81

I was trying to say that in my posts but I guess i got cought up about the Playoffs. Coach Sherman was a Bad Coach all the time.

About Rodgers- all I am hoping for out of him is something on the likes of Majik. Decent trowing arm and OK 'get out of trouble' ability. Plays for about 6-7 years and then we move on to our next trade with ATL in 2012 for their 2nd round pick at QB. :-)

83 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

RE 81

I have completley resigned myself to the fact that we here in GB only go to the SB every 30 years.

SB I and II

So I will be chearing like crazy when I am 54 in 2027 for the GB Packers in SB LXI

84 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I have completley resigned myself to the fact that we here in GB only go to the SB every 30 years.

Total number of teams in the NFL: 32
Average length of time between Super Bowls for any given team given complete parity and a long enough timespan: 32 years

C'mon, Green Bay's been to 4 Super Bowls in 40 years. That's three times the average. Stop complaining. :)

85 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Strike that, that was stupid: it's 16 years on average between Super Bowl visits for a perfectly average team.

Green Bay's still above the average, though.

86 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

RE 85

I know but the trend is there you know?
Anyway good luck to your eagles. And after today we will know if when we meets this year if it will have any significance. Hopefully we play you guys before Dallas comes to town. I would hate to have any unused hate towards TO directed at my team. especially when it is usually a very good contest between our two teams.

87 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Ok, I've been reading all these posts about how the Chargers were crazy to let Brees go and felt compelled to make a point.

All you who say the Chargers are crazy seem to be forgetting the fact that the Chargers made a $45 million commitment to Phillip Rivers with a $14 million signing bonus. If A.J. Smith stuck with Brees and decided to let Rivers go then he would have been basically admitting that he made a huge mistake in acquiring Rivers and giving him that contract. When Brees got that debilitating arm injury it provided for a convenient excuse for A.J. to bring Rivers in.

The Chargers needed to do something with Rivers. If they wanted to trade him they would never get anything close to his original value. Heck they would not even get a first-rounder. If they let him rot on the bench for another year then they would be stunting his growth. The Brees-Rivers scenario could not have continued for another year, and I think the Chargers did the right thing by jettisoning Brees and handing the reins to Rivers, even if Rivers turns out to be Ryan Leaf.