January 19, 2018

How Explosive is the Denver Broncos Offense?

Just how explosive is the Denver Broncos offense? Does their offense remind you of the days when you played Madden on Xbox as a kid?

After eight games, Denver is 7-1 and scored at least 33 points in each of their games. Last year Denver never eclipsed the 40-point mark during their 13-3 regular season. This year Denver averages 42.8 points per game. The fewest points Denver scored this season is 33 which came against the Indianapolis Colts on October 20, their only loss of the season.

Denver demolished the Washington Redskins 45-21, including a franchise-record 31 points in the fourth quarter after trailing 21-7 halfway through the 3rd quarter.

They became just the fourth NFL team to score at least 50 points in consecutive games. Denver scored 51 points against the Dallas Cowboys on October 6. The week before Denver racked up 52 points against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Prior to this season, Denver scored 50 points just once in franchise history. Denver has scored at least 40 points in five out of their eight games played.

Denver has scored 343 points, most ever by any team eight games into a season. If Denver continues their pace, they will score nearly 700 points this season. No NFL team has scored 600 points in a season.

QB Peyton Manning has thrown 29 touchdowns to 6 interceptions with 2,919 yards passing. Could we possible witness 60 touchdown passes with 6,000 yards passing? After eight games Manning averages nearly 365 yards passing per game. Three players have contributed with at least 45 receptions and are on pace for over 90 receptions.

In Week 1 against the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, Manning threw 7 touchdown passes, tying an NFL record. The Broncos become the first team in NFL history with three players catching at least two touchdown passes from the same quarterback. Manning becomes the first quarterback ever with three career games of six touchdown passes.

In Week 2, Peyton played his younger brother Eli and the New York Giants. Manning became the third quarterback ever to achieve 60,000 passing yards while doing it in the fewest games played. Dan Marino and Brett Favre are the others to throw for over 60,000 yards.

Two weeks later, Denver demolished the Philadelphia Eagles 52-20. It was the most points scored in a game by the Broncos in their 54-year history. After four games in September, Manning had thrown 16 touchdown passes to zero interceptions, an NFL record to start the season for most touchdown passes thrown without an interception.

Then in Week 5, Denver Broncos stay undefeated when Matt Prater kicked the game winning 28-yard field goal as time expired in Denver’s 51-48 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams combined to score 99 points, tied for the 4th most combined points scored in an NFL game.

In that game, Peyton Manning completed 33 out of 42 passes for 414 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. It was Manning’s first interception compared to 20 touchdown passes this season. Manning’s 20 touchdown passes are the most ever through five games to start a season.

With Manning’s 414 passing yards, it is his 10th career game with at least 400 yards passing, tying him for second with Drew Brees. Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino holds the NFL record with 13 career 400-yard passing games. Also Manning moved into second place in career passing yards with 61,371, trailing Brett Favre’s 71,838 passing yards.

Overall Manning has thrown at least two touchdown passes in 10 straight games, including the final two regular season games of the 2012 season. The Broncos have scored 30+ points in 11 straight games. Denver is 18-1 in their last 19 regular season games.

The fun continues today when the Broncos play the San Diego Chargers.


Book Review: Dan Marino: My Life in Football

Although Drew Brees and Tom Brady surpassed Dan Marino’s record for most pass yards in a single season this year, there are a couple big records where neither man comes close. Marino holds a 13-8 advantage over Peyton Manning for tops all-time when it comes to 400-yard passing games. Marino also shares the record for 300-yard passing games (63) with Manning and is right behind Brett Favre in a number of other categories.

“But let’s be serious,” Don Shula said. “Every defensive coach in the NFL would’ve liked me to establish a running game. Or at least try. It would have made their job easier. But Dan’s passing was the kind of strength you didn’t strategically stray from. You couldn’t. At least, not if you wanted to win” (10, Dan).


Pick up “Dan Marino: My Life in Football” because:

1.While Shula and others might have felt jumpy during Marino’s games, the man under center did not waver.

Asked to describe coaching Marino for 13 of the player’s 17 seasons, Shula summed it up with one word – “excitement.”

From childhood through retirement from the Dolphins, Marino wore No. 13. The quarterback can’t remember a time when he did not have his super arm.


“When I arrived in the league, writers wondered about the pressure of playing quarterback, before a full stadium, on national TV, with big stakes riding on each play,” Marino said. “That cracked me up. Pressure? That’s where I belonged. It’s what I loved to do. It’s what I grew up dreaming about, too, from the moment my dad took me aside as a kid and said, ‘I think if you work hard, set your mind to it, and are lucky enough to stay healthy, you can become a pretty good athlete’” (14).

2. Even when football didn’t go his way, which was rare, Marino made the best of it.

Marino excelled at the University of Pittsburgh. He led the nation with 37 TD passes as a junior. Then came a miserable senior season. The slide continued when he became the sixth quarterback taken in the famed 1983 NFL Draft.

“Strange how the lowest moments turn into the biggest blessings,” Marino said (24.) Miami was coming off a Super Bowl appearance. They had a stocked offensive line and defense. Furthermore, Shula told Marino to practice like he was starting from the first snap of training camp. It was not the norm, but Shula expected Marino to call his own plays. He would learn quickly and go on to start 145 brutal games in a row.

3. The book is packed with picture after picture of No. 13.

The man who retired with 25 passing records is captured in a multitude of photographs. The shots remind me of Michael Jordan’s “Rare Air.” Make sure to take a look at the life of another legend in this beautiful book.

Sam Miller is the founder of Sam’s Dream Blog.  A graduate of the University of Illinois, he worked with various teams in sports information and received the Freedom Forum – NCAA Sports Journalism Scholarship for his achievements. At the University of Illinois, Miller regularly wrote feature stories about the football team. He has also served as communications intern for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate. Prior to that, he worked as a communications intern for USA Basketball and as an associate reporter for MLB.com.

Hang Time Outside The Hash Marks

Peyton Manning is trying to come back from neck surgery. When a football player starts having issues with their neck, you have to start wondering how much longer their career will last. I always thought Manning would just keep on playing until he decides it is time to go. He may not have that choice. His body may make that decision for him.

If he does line up behind the center in week one of the regular season, he will continue his consecutive starts streak. Brett Favre holds the record with 297 consecutive regular season starts at quarterback. Manning is second at 208. So Manning needs to start 90 more consecutive games over the next six seasons to break the record.  That would be the tenth game of the 2016 season.

Besides the streak, Manning has the potential to break most of Favre’s other records. Here is what he would have to do in the next 90 games to break Favre’s passing marks for attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns and interceptions:

2,960  1,619   17,011   110   139


In terms of breaking all these records within these 90 games, Manning’s season averages would look like this:

  527    288    3,025    20    25


These would be subpar seasons for Manning. However, with injuries and Father Time creeping up on him, these averages would be acceptable, providing his next few seasons are better than his last few. So to break the completion mark, he would just have to complete 54.7 percent of his passes; a percentage not good in today’s game but not too shabby in the 1970s. His current career mark is 64.9%. He has never had a percentage as low as 54.7 so it would be un-Manning like, or should I say, un-Peyton like if that was his percentage over the next 90 games. He has had only one season under sixty percent and that was his rookie campaign in 1998 when he completed 56.7% of his passes. Archie, his dad, completed 55.2% for his career, and his brother Eli has completed 58% thus far in his career.

To be fair to Eli, his completion percentage has improved. He has gone over 60 percent the last three seasons, with a career-best 62.9 mark in 2010. BTW, Eli has a chance to move to the third spot in the all-time consecutive regular season QB starts list. He is currently in the sixth spot with 103 starts. With sixteen more starts in 2011, he would be at 119, three better than the current number three guy, Ron Jaworski. As a Giants fan, Eli can drive me nuts. However, the guy comes and plays week in and week out, giving it his all. If you look at his career numbers, they are pretty good and getting better each year. No matter what Eli does the rest of his career, he has already brought a championship to New York. I remember saying out loud during Super Bowl XLII, “If Eli brings us a championship, he gets a free pass the rest of his career.” I remind myself of that statement every time he throws an interception or fails to get the job done in the red zone.

It is interesting to note that if Peyton goes 45-45 in his next 90 games, he would have the same win-loss record as Favre. Favre has the most career wins at QB with an 186-112 regular season record. Peyton is currently at 141-67. Besides Favre, only John Elway (148-82-1) and Dan Marino (147-93) have more wins than Peyton. There is no guarantee he will pass both of them this season.


Don Chandler passed away on Thursday at the age of 76. He was among the best special teams players of his generation. After leading all major college punters with a 44.3 average for the University of Florida in his senior season, Chandler became a New York Giant in 1956.  He was the Giants’ punter for the next nine seasons. He also became their placekicker in 1962. His last three seasons (1965-1967) were with the dynasty Green Bay Packers. He played on four championship teams; his rookie season and his seasons with the Packers. He also played on teams that went to the NFL Championship Game in 1958, 1959, and 1961 through 1963, which included two loses to the Packers.

Chandler was the NFL All-Decade punter of the 1960s. He punted for 28,678 yards with a 43.5 average. His yardage total was number one all-time when he retired. As a placekicker, he connected for 94 field goals with 530 points scored. The Pro Football Hall of Fame has not been too generous to special teams players. If they were, Chandler would be a good candidate to be enshrined.


Here is a list of the only players to kick 50 or more field goals and punt for 20,000 yards:

Don Cockroft       188   216   328   65.9    651  26,262  40.3   1968-80
Sam Baker          195   179   316   56.6    703  29,938  42.6   1953,56-69
Tommy Davis        138   130   276   47.1    511  22,833  44.7   1959-69
Don Chandler       154    94   161   58.4    660  28,678  43.5   1956-67
Danny Villanueva   110    85   160   53.1    488  20,862  42.8   1960-67
Dennis Partee      111    71   121   58.7    519  21,417  41.3   1968-75


Special teams players have had a difficult time getting into the Hall. To me it seems unfair. I know they play less demanding positions, but special teams is a huge part of the game. If you are the best at your position in your era, you should be honored for it.

Here is an honor roll of some of my favorite special teams players that have been overlooked by the Hall of Fame to this point (retired before the 2006 season):

Gary Anderson, Kicker (1982-2004)
Sam Baker, Kicker/Punter (1953,56-69)
Jim Bakken, Kicker (1962-78)
Timmy Brown, Running Back/Kick Returner (1959-68)
Gino Cappelletti, Flanker/Kicker (1960-70)
Don Chandler, Punter/Kicker (1956-67)
Don Cockroft, Kicker/Punter (1968-80)
Fred Cox, Kicker (1963-77)
Ward Cuff, Back/Kicker (1937-47)
Tommy Davis, Kicker/Punter (1959-69)
Ted Fritsch, Fullback/Linebacker/Kicker/Kick Returner (1942-50)
Horace Gillom, Punter/End (1947-56)
Bruce Gossett, Kicker (1964-74)
Mel Gray, Kick Returner (1986-97)
Bobby Joe Green, Punter (1960-73)
Ray Guy, Punter (1973-86)
Abner Haynes, Halfback/Kick Returner (1960-67)
John James, Punter (1972-84)
Dave Jennings, Punter (1974-87)
Norm Johnson, Kicker (1982-99)
Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Kick Returner/Wide Receiver (1974-80,82-88)
Sean Landeta, Punter (1985-2005)
Pat Leahy, Kicker (1974-91)
Nick Lowery, Kicker (1978,80-96)
Jack Manders, Back/Kicker (1933-40)
Eric Metcalf, Kick Returner/Running Back/Wide Receiver (1989-99,2001-02)
Lou Michaels, Kicker/Linebacker (1958-69,71)
Brian Mitchell, Kick Returner/Running Back (1990-2003)
Mark Moseley, Kicker (1970-72,74-86)
Eddie Murray, Kicker (1980-95,97,99-2000)
Greg Pruitt, Running Back/Kick Returner (1973-84)
Reggie Roby, Punter (1983-98)
Rohn Stark, Punter (1982-97)
Steve Tasker, Special Teams Player (1984-97)
Jim Turner, Kicker (1964-79)
Rick Upchurch, Kick Returner/Wide Receiver (1975-83)
Bobby Walston, End/Kicker (1951-62)
Jerrel Wilson, Punter (1963-78)
Buddy Young, Halfback/Kick Returner (1947-55)
Note: Years only include AAFC, AFL and NFL seasons.


It will be interesting to see how Morten Andersen is voted on in 2013. Andersen may have been the game’s greatest kicker and is the all-time points leader in the NFL. With that said, football fans in Canada may argue Lui Passaglia is the greatest kicker in history. In a 25-year Canadian Football League career (1976-2000), Passaglia made 875 field goals and scored 3,991 points. He also punted 3,142 times for 133,832 yards. Bob Cameron (1980-2002) broke his punting yardage mark in 2002, ending his career with 134,301 yards on 3,129 punts.

Speaking of the CFL, are you watching Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo this season? On Thursday, he threw his 400th career touchdown and went over the 70,000 yard mark. Calvillo broke Damon Allen’s CFL touchdown passing record earlier in the year when he tossed his 395th TD. Allen, the brother of Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, was snubbed this year by the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. Kind of shocking the CFL’s all-time leading passer (72,831 yards) and third all-time leading rusher (11,920 yards) didn’t make it. I would think the Hall will correct itself next year.

Calvillo’s 400th TD pass makes him just the fourth professional QB to accomplish this feat; joining Brett Favre (508), Warren Moon (435) and Dan Marino (420). Moon played in both the CFL (1978-83) and NFL (1984-2000) to accomplish the milestone (144 in CFL and 291 in NFL). Peyton Manning is next up with 399 TDs entering the 2011 NFL season. Calvillo was also the fourth QB to go over the 70,000 yard mark in pro football history, joining Allen, Favre and Moon.

If you’re a fan of the CFL and love history and statistics, I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Canadian Pro Football Encyclopedia. I used to be a member of the Canadian Football Historical Association. When the CFHA was formed in 2003, one of their goals was to create a Canadian football encyclopedia since no definite source existed. Unfortunately, the CHFA folded in 2006 without creating this encyclopedia. To my delight, two of football’s best researchers, Tod Maher and Bob Gill, published The Canadian Pro Football Encyclopedia after the 2010 CFL season. The book covers “Every Player, Coach and Game, 1946-2010” as the front cover states. The book is available from Amazon.com.


A final list…Here are the runners with 9,000 career rushing yards in pro football history through 1967, including statistics from the AAFC, AFL, CFL and NFL:

PLAYER           GAMES    ATT      YARDS    AVG   TDS    YEARS
Jim Brown         118    2,359    12,312    5.2   106    1957-65
Johnny Bright     175    1,969    10,909    5.5    70    1952-64
Joe Perry         181    1,929     9,723    5.0    71    1948-63
Cookie Gilchrist  149    1,771     9,204    5.2    65    1956-67
Normie Kwong      184    1,745     9,022    5.2    76    1948-60*


Notes: *Totals do not include attempts and yards for the 1948 and 1949 seasons.
Brown played in the NFL. Bright and Kwong played in the CFL. Perry played in the AAFC and NFL.
Gilchrist played in the CFL and AFL.


All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Good news to every Cardinal fans ears, WR Larry Fitzgerald stated that with the improvements the team made on the field in free agency, he is more likely to sign long term with Arizona…..Coach Ken Whisenhunt stated on Thursday that Beanie Wells will start at running back to begin the season…..The addition of TE Todd Heap gives the Cardinals a solid pass catcher, but remember, Heap is nowhere near the player he used to be; however in the red zone, he’s a nice tall target for QB Kevin Kolb.

Atlanta Falcons: We learned recently that RB Michael Turner underwent groin surgery in the off-season; an optimist thinks this is the reason for Turner’s mediocre 2010 and a pessimist thinks this season won’t be any better…..Tony Gonzalez, 35, recently stated that he could play another three seasons if he wanted to; you have to wonder if Tony is starting to realize just how good this offense can be with the addition of WR Julio Jones.

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are one of the teams that are rumored to be interested in the services of Giants DE Osi Umenyiora, as if that defense isn’t scary enough…..The loss of TE Todd Heap to free agency means we will find out if Ed Dickson is the real deal or not…..A couple of the Steelers have had some unflattering things to say about QB Joe Flacco this week. Seems they forget that if not for a couple of key drops by Raven WRs in the playoff game last season, the Steelers wouldn’t have even made the Super Bowl.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills signing of LB Nick Barnett gives them a quality player who can range from sideline to sideline. The only reason he is still not a Packer is because of salary cap reasons…..With opposing teams having to respect the deep threat of WRs Steve Johnson and Lee Evans, RB CJ Spiller could have plenty of room to operate underneath.

Carolina Panthers: Linebacker Jon Beason was placed on the non-football injury list with tendinitis in his Achilles but it’s not considered anything serious…..One would have to think that Cam Newton will start at QB for the Panthers as Jimmy Claussen was nothing short of awful last season. But even if he doesn’t, the Panthers have stated that they will have plays designed for him each week…..Speaking of QBs who were awful last season, the Panthers signed Derek Anderson.

Chicago Bears: The Bears must be in love with former Cowboys, having signed WRs Roy Williams and Sam Hurd, along with RB Marion Barber so far in free agency…..Williams could be the ball possession type of receiver the Bears need. Hurd is probably still best suited for special teams. Barber looks to be the goal line back…..The Bears will be looking for another center after Olin Kreutz has decided to test the free agent market. Not good for a team whose biggest weakness may have been the offensive line last season.

Cincinnati Bengals: Cedric Benson is back in the fold after signing a one-year deal. One has to wonder if his market dried up because of his off field problems…..Andy Dalton will be given every chance to win the starting QB job this season. This promises to be a pretty ugly situation as Dalton would almost certainly be better off sitting behind a veteran to at least start the season…..Those of you who think Carson Palmer may change his mind and come out of retirement to play again for the Bengals, forget about it! There is a better chance of Boomer Esiason putting the pads back on.

Cleveland Browns: QB Colt McCoy is struggling so far in camp with the new West Coast offense, but that’s to be expected since there weren’t any off-season mini-camps to work on things…..You know you may not be in for a good season when you lose your punter for the year with a torn Achilles tendon.

Dallas Cowboys: There were many questions when Dallas didn’t try to upgrade their secondary via the draft, but the Cowboys kept insisting they trusted Terrance Newman and Mike Jenkins. The Cowboys were all of a sudden in late on the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes, but lost out, and now the news that they have lost Newman for 4-6 weeks with a groin injury. Even if Newman comes back before the season opener, it seems unlikely that he would be at 100%, and all the top CBs are off the market…..On the flip side, they did solve their safety problems with the signing of Gerald Sensabaugh and Abram Elam.

Denver Broncos: Kyle Orton has clearly outplayed Tim Tebow in the battle for the starting QB job. Not a shock as Orton may not be a sexy QB, but still much better than an average one…..The Broncos signed ex-Patriot Ty Warren to help with their run defense…..WR Brandon Lloyd has looked good in camp once again, and if Orton does indeed start, could once again put up a big season.

Detroit Lions: The loss of DT Nick Fairley for most, if not all, of training camp with a foot injury is certainly not good news. But if he can get close to 100% before the start of the regular season, then it’s not a devastating loss…..The Lions did a great job of waiting out LB Stephen Tulloch. There wasn’t a big market for his services and they were able to get him at a much more team friendly contract.

Green Bay Packers: The re-signing of WR James Jones is great for the Packers but not good for those fantasy owners who grabbed Jordy Nelson thinking this would be his breakout season…..It’s also not good for their 2nd round pick Randall Cobb, who now will only get on the field in the event of an injury to one of the top four wideouts…..For those of you who are worried, DB Charles Woodson is practicing fully in camp.

Houston Texans: WR Andre Johnson dislocated a finger in practice Tuesday, nothing to worry about as he will be back in a matter of days. This reminded me of the days where John Elway and Brett Favre would repeatedly break or dislocate their receivers fingers because they threw the ball with such velocity…..RB Steve Slaton will be traded as long as Ben Tate shows he is healthy and can handle the backup RB job.

Indianapolis Colts: QB Peyton Manning was spotted throwing the ball in practice and looked good doing so, but is still on the PUP list…..WR Austin Collie is also practicing fully, but one has to wonder if he can make it through a full season after multiple concussions last season…..The Colts re-signed Joseph Addai to a three-year, $14 million contract. Not sure if it’s just me, but that seems a bit high.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew is being limited in training camp after coming off meniscus surgery. If there is one top RB that I’m staying away from in fantasy leagues, it would be Jones-Drew. He’s an injury risk and the Jaguars might use Rashad Jennings in a bigger role in order to keep Jones-Drew as fresh and healthy as possible…..I’m not a big fan of the passing game either and wonder if teams stack the line of scrimmage and force QB David Garrard to beat them.

Kansas City Chiefs: Head Coach Todd Haley has stated that once again the Chiefs will be a run first team this season. If RB Jamaal Charles can stay healthy, he is going to have a big year…..TE Tony Moeaki has missed the first couple of days of camp with a knee injury. He may not be a household name, but he is a good blocker in the run game and can surprise some people in the passing game.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have announced that RB Reggie Bush will have pretty much the same role with them that he had with New Orleans, touching the ball about 10-12 times a game…..There were some rumblings that Miami is interested in QB Brett Favre (can’t he just go away), but apparently this is nothing more than internet rumor…..Tiki Barber had a tryout with the Fish this week. Pretty much shows you how desperate they are right now.

Minnesota Vikings:  WR Percy Harvin is looking forward to a breakout season after not having suffered from a migraine since last year…..Of course with Bernard Berrian starting opposing you, Harvin is going to have the attention of all of the pass defenses…..Tackle Byrant McKinnie showed up at camp close to 300 pounds and was promptly released…..Anyone who hasn’t seen the video of what P Chris Kluwe asked of Donovan McNabb in order to give up jersey #5 should check it out. Pretty funny!

New England Patriots: The Patriots and Jets are gearing up for what should be an interesting battle in the AFC East…..If WR Chad Ochocinco can’t be a deep threat, one has to wonder if the Patriots can be the high scoring offense they were in the past…..DT Albert Haynesworth passed his conditioning test without any problems for those of you who are wondering.

New Orleans Saints: RB Mark Ingram has looked great early on in camp and could be another dangerous weapon in the Saints offense…..DE Will Smith will finally be suspended four games for using performance enhancers; the courts finally upheld the NFL’s right to suspend Smith…..If you’re looking for a TE late in your draft, look no further than Jimmy Graham. He is going to have a big year.

New York Giants: The saga between the Giants and DE Osi Umenyiroa promises to last all season long. In a nutshell, Osi believes he was promised a new contract if he performed well and now wants to be traded. The Giants did give his agent permission to seek a trade for about 48 hours before rescinding it. They then told Osi to take the day off and he refused. It is going to be an interesting soap opera all training camp.

New York Jets: The Jets are taking a big gamble on WR Plaxico Burress. He hasn’t played in two years and had issues with both organizations that employed him. Now has a sprained ankle to begin camp…..It seemed the Jets were the favorites until the last minute to land CB Nnamdi Asomugha but re-signing Antonio Cromartie is still a good move. With Darrelle Revis on your roster, Asomugha was a luxury, not a necessity.

Oakland Raiders: If you’re the Raiders, how can you let TE Zach Miller leave during free agency, not to mention the aforementioned Asomugha?…..RB Darren MacFadden will be out of action for at least two weeks with a fractured orbital bone…..The Raiders have been working out TE Kevin Boss to replace Miller…..The Raiders are still hoping that WR Jacoby Ford will be ready for the regular season after having the cast taken off his broke hand on Tuesday.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles are going for broke this season, signing just about every free agent imaginable…..CB Nnamdi Asomugha seems to be an answer to the multiple receiver sets that the Packers and Saints use as the Eagles now have three top flight CBs on their roster. Makes you wonder if they will try and trade Asante Samuel eventually…..The Eagles even tried to lure WR Randy Moss out of retirement…..If QB Michael Vick stays healthy, this is going to be a scary offense…..Speaking of health, DT Mike Patterson is probably out for the season after suffering a seizure in practice and needing surgery to fix the problem.

Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Emmanuel Sanders had another surgery on his foot and is no longer likely to begin the season as the Steelers #3 WR…..QB Dennis Dixon angered Pittsburgh management when he asked for a trade. He may get his wish though…..WR Hines Ward should be ready to come off the PUP list (thumb) in the next couple of days.

San Diego Chargers: In order to keep SS Bob Sanders healthy, they are thinking about replacing him in passing situations. That’s all fine and good, but Sanders usually gets hurt throwing his body around in the running game…..Another player who came off the PUP list was TE Antonio Gates. He practiced on Thursday. The Bolts have to be a little worried though about his foot. This injury looks like it’s never going to heal completely.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers signed WR Braylon Edwards. The loss of Michael Crabtree makes Edwards close to a necessity…..In somewhat of a shock, the 49ers sent out an email to all NFL teams that S Taylor Mays is available. It didn’t take long for Mays (2nd round pick last year) to prove to new head coach Jim Harbaugh that he can’t play at the NFL level, now you know why is college coach, Pete Carroll, passed on him.

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks signing of TE Zach Miller is somewhat surprising as they have a pretty good TE already on their roster in John Carlson. Miller just seems to be a luxury, not a necessity…..The Hawks also signed WR Sidney Rice earlier in free agency. Now if they only had a QB to get the ball to these two…..Yeah, I’m not a big fan of Tarvares Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst.

St. Louis Rams: The Rams finally found their backup to RB Steven Jackson in Cadillac Williams…..Michael Sims-Walker gives the Rams yet another WR who is maddingly inconsistent. QB Sam Bradford may not be able to make that jump to the next level without a true number one wideout.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It would’ve been nice to see the Bucs spend some money in free agency this season. They are a strong young team with a ton of room under the cap. A couple of solid free agents here and there could make a big difference. Seems to be they are behind the Saints and Falcons at this time.

Tennessee Titans: It was bad news for WR Kenny Britt on Thursday when it was announced that commissioner Roger Goodell will still be judge and jury when it comes to player discipline. Oh and Britt hasn’t practiced yet due to a hamstring injury…..Chris Johnson still hasn’t reported to camp. He wants a new contract with around $30 million guaranteed. Cha ching!

Washington Redskins: A sleeper RB in your fantasy leagues could be Roy Helu. Tim Hightower has already proven he can’t handle a full-time role and Ryan Torrain underwent surgery to place four screws in his hand this week. Of course the problem is the Skins have no QB and coach Mike Shanahan is famous for driving fantasy owners crazy with his use of RBs…..The Skins did re-sign QB Rex Grossman. It’s either him or John Beck for the starting QB job, yippee.

Trades Involving Big Name QB’s That Never Happened

It’s often mentioned that championship teams are built through the NFL draft.  It’s a fairly cliché statement, but it’s entirely true.  What’s often overlooked is that draft selections are only one aspect of the draft.  The ability of front office staffs to wheel and deal during the draft can also make lasting impacts on NFL teams.  The most impactful trades often involve quarterbacks.

There are a lot of trade rumors involving QB’s flying around draft weekend, and usually none of them end up true.  Imagine though if some of them did in fact become true.  The NFL landscape would certainly be different.  Listed below are some draft time trade rumors from the past 25 years (as reported by the major media) involving star QB’s, that never became true.


1983 NFL Draft – Rumored John Elway/#1 Pick Trades

Before the 1983 NFL draft, John Elway told the Baltimore Colts (owners of the NFL’s #1 pick) not to select him.  That’s because Elway wanted to play for a team located on the west coast, and if he was selected by the Colts, he insinuated he might abandon football, and pursue a career in baseball.  In the end, the Colts selected Elway, but soon after traded him to the Denver Broncos.  The rest is history.

With Elway’s strong statements before the draft, it appeared to the major media that the Colts would trade the #1 pick; thus trading the rights to select Elway.  The Los Angeles Raiders and San Diego Chargers were two teams mentioned as likely candidates to win the Elway sweepstakes.

The San Diego Chargers owned three picks in the first round, and were having difficulty signing All-Pro QB Dan Fouts to a new contract.  The Raiders had a solid veteran QB in Jim Plunkett, but Al Davis always liked to make a splash at the draft.

The Baltimore Colts were willing to trade the #1 pick/Elway to the San Diego Chargers for all three of the Chargers first round picks, but the Chargers were unwilling to give up the 5th overall selection.  Perhaps if the Chargers hadn’t signed Dan Fouts to a new contract the night before, the Chargers might have been more willing to give up that 5th overall pick.

There were a number of different rumored trade offers from the Raiders.  One scenario stated the Raiders were offering a number of top picks in the 1983 and 1984 drafts, as well as former first round selection in QB Marc Wilson.  Another rumor mentioned that the Raiders would consider trading future Hall of Fame RB Marcus Allen.  Lastly, it was also rumored that the Raiders were attempting to attain first round selections, in order to trade them for Elway.  Reportedly, the Raiders were offering RB Kenny King, G Mickey Marvin, and future Hall of Fame DE Howie Long to the Chicago Bears (6th pick) or the Philadelphia Eagles (8th pick).

The Dallas Cowboys were also rumored as being interested in Elway.  It was rumored that the Cowboys offered the Colts their top selection in the 1983 draft (23rd overall), and a number of veteran players, possibly QB Danny White and DT Randy White.

Lastly, despite Elway’s request to play for a team on the west coast, the New England Patriots were supposedly highly interested in selecting Elway.  It was rumored that the Patriots would offer the Colts their first round selections in 1983, 1984, and 1985, as well as a veteran player or another top selection.

In the end, the Denver Broncos were truly the dark horse candidate to get John Elway, and made out the best.

In hindsight, the Chargers should have traded all three first round selections for Elway.  The Chargers did pick up three solid players with their picks; LB Billy Ray Smith, RB Gary Anderson, and DB Gill Byrd.  However, none of those players had Hall of Fame careers.

The Cowboys also should have offered a bit more for Elway.  Although, if they did, I’m sure the team wouldn’t have gone through the collapse they did in 1988 and 1989; which ultimately led to the birth of a dynasty.  Who knows if it was even nothing more than a remote possibility, but the Patriots also should have made more of an effort to get Elway.

Meanwhile, it’s debatable whether the Raiders made the right decision by not trading for Elway.  The Raiders would go on to win the Super Bowl in 1983.  Without Marcus Allen and/or Howie Long, that probably doesn’t happen.   However, I’m sure the Raiders would have loved to have had Elway at QB with some of their more talented teams in the early 1990’s.

Lastly, the Colts would have been better off taking trade offers from any of the rumored trades, before actually selecting Elway.  Once they selected Elway, and he refused to play for them, their bargaining power was reduced significantly.  In the end, the Colts picked up an unproductive QB in Mark Herrmann, a talented tackle, albeit not a Hall of Famer in Chris Hinton, and a first round selection in the 1984 draft (used on G Ron Solt).


1987 NFL Draft – Rumored Steve Young Trades

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed QB Vinny Testaverde to a contract weeks before they would actually be able to select him #1 in the 1987 NFL draft.  This gave the Buccaneers a few weeks to shop around highly talented QB Steve Young.  Eventually, the San Francisco 49ers would pick up Young for second and third round picks.  However, the Green Bay Packers and the St. Louis Cardinals had also been in trade talks with the 49ers for Young.

After the draft, Packers head coach Forrest Gregg stated the 49ers asking price for Steve Young was too steep.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals elected to choose a QB in the draft by selecting Kelly Stouffer.

Looking back, the Packers should have realized the asking price for Steve Young wasn’t too steep.  However, they came out of it rather unscathed, with a smart draft selection of Don Majkowski, and a smart trade for Brett Favre.  The Cardinals however didn’t get so lucky.  Stouffer never played a snap with the Cardinals, refusing to sign with them.


1992 NFL Draft – Rumored Steve Young Trade

The San Francisco 49ers reportedly made a trade offer to the Los Angeles Raiders, in which they were going to trade the NFL’s top rated passer, Steve Young, for the Raiders first and second round selections, and WR Tim Brown.  49ers head coach George Seifert admitted the 49ers attempted to trade up in the draft, but didn’t get into the specifics on any trade offers they may have made.

The Raiders ended up picking defensive lineman Chester McGlockton with their first round pick, and the Raiders traded up in the second round to pick offensive lineman Greg Skrepenak.

Clearly, it looks like the 49ers benefited from this trade not occurring.  Steve Young continued to be one of the best QB’s in the NFL, and led the 49ers to a Super Bowl championship in 1994.

If the trade did go through, the 49ers would have had Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and most likely future Hall of Famer Tim Brown at the receiver’s positions.  Coincidentally, the two players would be paired together as Raiders during the 2001-2003 seasons.


1992 NFL Draft – Rumored Phil Simms Trades

What turned out to be a rumor with no legs, the New York Giants were reportedly interested in trading veteran QB Phil Simms, so they could move up in the 1992 NFL draft and select QB David Klinger.  The San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Raiders were supposedly interested in Simms.  The Giants denied the rumor.  Simms remained with the Giants for a few more years and eventually won the starting job back.   Jeff Hostetler, the Giants starting QB at the time, would end up with the Raiders one year later.


1993 NFL Draft – Rumored Joe Montana Trades

If you thought the sight of Joe Montana in a Kansas City Chiefs uniform was strange, imagine how he would have looked in an Arizona Cardinals uniform, or a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform.

The Buccaneers were the original front running team to get Joe Montana.  They had a surplus of draft picks, some youthful talent, and Montana worked with Buccaneers head coach Sam Wyche when Wyche was an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers.  But Montana had no interest in going to a team that wasn’t a contender, and chose against being traded to the Buccaneers.

Despite Montana’s request to go to Kansas City, it looked as if Montana would end up in a Cardinals uniform because they were offering more compensation for him.  The Cardinals were offering the 49ers their first round selection in the draft (20th pick).  At that point in the trade negations, no other team had even offered the 49ers a draft selection in the second round.

The Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Raiders also expressed interest in trading for Montana, but their type of offensive styles didn’t appeal to Montana.

Eventually, the 49ers and Chiefs came to an agreement.  The 49ers sent Montana, safety David Whitmore and their third round selection in the 1994 draft.  In return, the 49ers received the Chiefs first round draft pick (18th overall).

You can’t really fault the Buccaneers or Cardinals for not getting Montana.  Montana wanted to go to the Chiefs, and when the Chiefs offered enough compensation, a deal was made.  The Buccaneers and Cardinals were merely curious bystanders.


1995 NFL Draft – Rumored Mark Brunell Trades

In 1995, Mark Brunell wasn’t a household name; however some NFL teams recognized his talents, and were willing to take a chance on him.  The team Brunell played for, the Green Bay Packers, already had a talented and young QB on their roster in Brett Favre.

The Philadelphia Eagles actually had a deal in principle made with the Packers for Brunell, under the stipulation that they would be able to sign Brunell to a long term contract.  Brunell and the Eagles never reached a contract agreement, and the Eagles agreement to send their second and fifth round selections to the Packers fell through.

The St. Louis Rams were also reported as a team interested in Brunell.  In the end, the Jacksonville Jaguars sent their third and fifth round picks to the Packers for Brunell.

If the Eagles had been able to sign Brunell, it would have changed the franchise.  Brunell came into his own during the 1996 playoffs; during a time when the Eagles were struggling to find a suitable QB to lead their talented roster.


2010 NFL Draft – Rumored Ben Roethlisberger Trades

Coming off another off-season embarrassment relating to their franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger, it was rumored that the Pittsburgh Steelers were interested in trading him.

It was reported that the Steelers offered Roethlisberger to the St. Louis Rams as a way to attain the #1 pick in the draft.  However, the Rams had no interest in the trade, and selected QB Sam Bradford.

The Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders were also mentioned as possible trading partners with the Steelers for Roethlisberger.  The Steelers confirmed they had spoken to the Raiders about Roethlisberger, but denied speaking to the Browns.


One final note: If there is a big name QB with trade rumors attached to his name, it appears that the Oakland Raiders will always be interested.  Every QB on this list, with the exception of Mark Brunell, was of interest to the Raiders.


Andrew McKillop runs the sports research blog SportsDelve.com.

Retirement Doesn’t Seem to be an Option for Brett Favre

The Brett Favre rumorville has started turning and to be honest, yes this year, I am somewhat surprised. I did not think after his concussion last season that he’d want to return for a 21st season. But you know what? I hope he comes back and a team gives him an offer.

I’m in the minority I know. And had Favre hired a PR manager during the last several years, perhaps the “will he or won’t he” saga would not have been front page news, which made him look like a buffoon. But the fact is, at least for me, football is more entertaining with Favre on the field. I don’t think he’s ready to hang up his cleats and despite last season’s mess, his skills as a quarterback are still pretty much intact.

In 1998 and 1999, while with Green Bay, Favre threw 23 interceptions. In 2005, he threw 29. It is clear by now that interceptions don’t define Favre’s ability. They define his playing style. The fact is Favre has developed an interesting playing cycle over the years. He either sucks or he’s great.

In 2001, he had a QB rating of 94.1. It dropped a few points the next year and then he stuck around 90 for 2003 and 2004. In 2005, the calls for his retirement began when he threw those 29 interceptions and had, at the time, a career low 70.9 QB rating. He ticked his rating up 2 points the next year and then was back in Favre form his final year with the Packers.

The New York Jets was not a mistake, at least on the field. His indiscretions aside, Favre brought new life to the Jets and I maintain his biggest mistake with the Jets was not coming back for a second year. Had Favre returned, there is no doubt in my mind the New York Jets and Favre would be Super Bowl Champions. (I have always wondered if that is lost on him.) Until his arm injury, the Jets were nearly unstoppable and Favre played flawlessly. The turnaround game for the team that year was when they got blown out against the San Diego Chargers on a Monday night and Favre spent the game throwing dink and dunk passes which clearly helped him figure out the offense.

Then 2009. Revenge is a wonderful motivator and Favre clearly got it. He destroyed the Packers and posted a career high of 107.2 QB rating which was the first time he hit 100 for a season. Just imagine had his ire against the Packers receded and he gave the Jets those numbers that year. But once again, the roller coaster of his career dropped the following year thanks to injuries and a depleted offensive line and receiving corps.

It could be argued that Favre is in line for a high profile season. Then again he may fizzle, which if he does return and posts a new career QB rating low, then maybe that’s what he needs mentally to realize his time is up. One more touchdown last year or one less interception, Favre’s QB rating would not match his career low set in 2005.

Quarterbacks have up and down years. Once they reach a certain age, the “too old” drum begins to beat but when other 20-something’s consistently throw up duds excuses are always handed out. Give Favre an offensive line that actually protects him and a couple of receivers who can catch, it would not surprise me if Favre has a 90+ year, if indeed he returns and a team picks him up.

If Favre is truly mulling another season, his best approach is to offer himself as a starting mentor. The streak is over so there is no pressure to keep him playing if he gets injured and/or if age does begin to show in his playing ability. If he can begin the season as a starter and be a teacher to a young backup than any team looking for a veteran should consider picking him up.

Since Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez seems to only play well when the game is on the line or Coach Rex Ryan is threatening to bench him, maybe Favre can return to New York to be the thorn in Sanchez’s side that keeps him playing well the whole season.

On second thought, I’m not sure his wife Deanna would OK that move.