Thursday, September 13, 2012

Greg Jennings out of Green Bay?

An interesting story out of Wisconsin, as Packers beat writer Bob Mcginn, known as one of the most respected beat writers in the entire NFL, wrote an article about how the Pack would be wise to deal All-Pro receiver Greg Jennings before the October 30 trade deadline.  As stunning as this may sound, McGinn makes some very valid points, most notably the fact that Green Bay has no chance of resigning Jennings after this year, so either way this will be his last in Green Bay.  But I'd rather not focus on whether the Packers will decide to keep Jennings this year, and instead speculate on what teams may make an offer if this does happen.  So here it goes.

Miami Dolphins
As we all saw on Hard Knocks and throughout the season, the Dolphins don't have any good receivers.  The recent addition of Anthony Armstrong helps, but it doesn't help significantly.  I'm a firm believer that quarterbacks make great wide receivers (with some rare exceptions) and not the other way around. But a veteran receiver as talented as Jennings could be crucial in the development of rookie QB Ryan Tannehill.  Jennings has plenty of good football left, and he would instantly become Tannehill's favorite target.  Couple that with the fact that Jeff Ireland is certainly on the hot seat, and he may feel pressured to bring in a target like Jennings for their franchise quarterback.

A deal to Miami definitely makes sense, but they may be beyond fixing for the foreseeable future, which would make a second-round pick more valuable than Jennings.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Another team that could use weapons at the wide receiver position, the Jaguars would be tempted to make an offer on Jennings.  This is a similar situation to Miami, in which they would like to have a go-to guy for their young quarterback, but the Jaguars are a more complete football team than the Dolphins, so bringing in a veteran could be just the right push that this team needs.  Jennings won't make the Jaguars a good football team, but he is a piece that could move them closer to competing in the AFC South.  Also, Shahid Khan would love to bring in a big name like Greg Jennings to bolster the Jaguars into relevance.

San Diego Chargers
Even though Philip Rivers and the Chargers played well on Monday night, it's clear that Rivers doesn't have much confidence in his receivers.  Malcom Floyd looked solid, Meachem had a big catch, but they still need a #1 receiver in San Diego.  This team is looking to make some noise this year in the NFL, and they easily could with a couple more players.  I'm not sure trading a high draft pick for a veteran is the Chargers style, but the move makes sense, and they could legitimately pull the trigger on this deal.

Seattle Seahawks
Maybe the only positive from trading Jennings is being able to control which team he ends up with.  This is probably the least likely, as the Packers would like to keep a guy like Jennings out of the NFC, if possible, but ultimately they would take the best deal (if this deal ever happens, of course).  The Seahawks have brought in Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards, so it is clear that they have been searching for some veteran talent at the receiver position.  Jennings is way better than both of those guys, so why not pony up a second rounder and grab him from the Packers?

It will be interesting to see how this story develops.  I, for one, can't see a Super Bowl contender trading away their #1 receiver just to get a draft pick.  But with the amount of weapons the Packers have, it certainly isn't out of the question.  It will be one of the toughest decisions that Ted Thompson ever has to make, and we will see how he handles it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Early College Football Reaction- Teams that Proved they're Legit Contenders

by John Huffstetler

After two weeks of College Football season, many teams have stood out for both positive and negative reasons. Other teams have yet to even really start their season (see Florida St.'s wins over Murray St. and Savannah St.), and those teams will be ignored in this article. We will instead focus on teams that have played legit teams in either or both of their first two games and see what we've learned. And anyone who objects to the SEC dominance on this list, I have two things to say: 1) SEC teams have won the last 7 titles and 2) Not many other conferences have played anyone yet!!

Teams that have Proven to be Legit Contenders

Alabama- This isn't exactly a revelation, but the Crimson Tide just looked way more physical up front than Michigan in their 41-14 season opening win. All the questions regarding the big name defensive starters they lost to the NFL were answered in that win. There is clearly still talent there, but it is still yet to be seen how the Tide's defense will hold up against a formidable downfield passing attack. A healthy Tyler Wilson and his Arkansas squad could test their pass defense, but Wilson is questionable to play this Saturday after their disastrous loss to ULM following his injury. Without a healthy Wilson, Alabama will be 5-0 on October 13th entering back-to-back road trips to Missouri and Tennessee.

Clemson- Their opening week victory over Auburn was the best game of the young season so far. They managed to survive their test against Auburn without stud WR Sammy Watkins (who returns from suspension next week), and looked terrific in the process. The defense is definitely improved under former Oklahoma DC Brent Venables, and the offense is loaded with highlight-reel players (see any of Andre Ellington's runs this season). Additionally, the schedule is not that daunting with only four difficult games remaining (at Florida St., home against GaTech, VaTech, and SC). If they get through Florida St in two weeks (and I consider them the favorite to win that game), they will need just a few home wins to reach the ACC Championship game undefeated.

Georgia/Florida/ South Carolina- Each of the big three teams in the SEC east (no offense to a strong but outmatched Tennessee team) showed up with huge road wins in dangerous spots in the first two weeks. South Carolina had every excuse to fold in week one at Vandy and walk out with a loss after starting QB Conner Shaw injured his shoulder, but the defense stepped up and played a fantastic second half to secure the victory. Dylan Thompson then took over at QB the next week and looked like a superstar against ECU. Ditto for Florida after trailing at Texas A+M on the road only to show up after halftime and shut down the A+M attack. The offense is questionable, but the defense looks outstanding at times. Despite all the suspensions, Georgia rebounded from a halftime deficit at Missouri by winning the turnover battle and giving Aaron Murray time to pick apart the Tiger defense.

The problem with these three teams is that they all must face each other and only one team can potentially emerge. Which one? Here is the Math: Times each team plays either LSU or Alabama in the regular season- Florida 1, South Carolina 1, Georgia 0. Georgia has by far the easiest schedule, and unfortunately in the current system, an easy schedule plays a large role in who can make a run at the title. Georgia benefitted last year from avoiding both LSU and Alabama in the regular season and advanced to the title game despite a home loss to South Carolina. Georgia only has two tough road tests left (at South Carolina and Auburn) and a neutral site tilt against Florida. They have a great shot at the SEC championship and the national title game.

Please follow us on Twitter @11on11sports

NFL Week 1 Reactions

Week 1 is in the books and, as usual, it lived up to the hype.  For die-hard football fans, the first Sunday of the NFL season is the only holiday that can give Christmas morning a run for its money.  Records were broken, rookies made an impact and the New England Patriots won their first game of the season for the 9th consecutive year.  Here are some initial reactions from the first Sunday of the 2012 season.

RG3 is not RG-Leaf

The Washington Redskins have to be pleased, as they were able to do something nobody else has done since 2010--beat the Saints in the Superdome.  It was a collective team effort, and Robert Griffin was the first to point that out, but the rookie quarterback was nothing short of sensational in his first NFL start.  He started out with short passes and screens, found his rhythm, and he was shredding the Saints secondary before they even knew what hit them.  While I have been one of the biggest RG3 supporters around, there has definitely been some skepticism about his abilities and projected success in the NFL.  The comparisons to Leaf, however, were unwarranted, as RG3 wasn't entering the NFL with the same character questions as Leaf.  Anyway, it was great to see RG3 silence what few critics he had, and he looks poised for a great career.

Andrew Luck will be great, but he won't be great this year

RG3 is undoubtedly in a much better situation than Andrew Luck.  While the Redskins have some franchise pieces in place, the Colts are the worst team in the league.  For them to win games, Luck will have to be perfect, and I just don't see that happening much while playing behind a poor offensive line. Indianapolis will have to get used to some growing pains for the next year or two, until they are able to put some pieces together around Andrew Luck.  Despite the four turnovers yesterday, I was impressed with the rookie quarterback's performance, and it's clear to me that he and RG3 are head-and-shoulders above the other quarterbacks from their draft class.

The Patriots and 49ers were the most impressive teams, by far

Let's start with the 49ers, who were able to go into Lambeau and come away with a dominating performance.  I was most impressed with the running game, and if this team continues to dominate up front, both offensively and defensively, they will cruise through the regular season.  They have everything that you could ask for except for a franchise quarterback, but Alex Smith is doing his very best impression of one.

While the 49ers were in Lambeau, seemingly continuing last year's identity, the Patriots decided to have a bit of an identity change on Sunday.  New England was able to rush the passer, stop the run, lockdown in the secondary and run the football.  The Patriots haven't looked this complete since 2004, when they were able to beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl.  I still have my concerns about the offensive line from their preseason performances, but I expect the issues up front to be taken care of.

Not the same offense in Atlanta

The Falcons have finally stepped away from the ground and pound approach and given Matt Ryan the keys to the offense, and what a nice offense it is.  With Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez to throw to, the Falcons will be tough to stop this year.  The reason they were left out of the "most impressive" discussion is that the offense was a bit one-dimensional and the defense was spotty at times.  But Falcons fans definitely have something to look forward to, and I can guarantee the Giants won't hold them to 2 points this year.

Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning

To all of us that doubted Manning's ability to come back this season, shame on us.  He still may not be 100%, but he is a top-5 QB in this league right now.  The Broncos are in a great position to win that division, and I'd actually be shocked if they didn't, unless we see a meteoric rise from San Diego or Kansas City this year.

The Eagles aren't nearly as good as they are on paper

Before the season started, I had the Eagles pegged as a 13-3 team, with the possibility to go 15-1.  I loved what they did during the offseason, both in the draft and in free agency.  After yesterday's performance, you can tell that they still are unable to put it all together, but it's hard to figure out why.  A lot of the blame can be placed on Michael Vick, but at the end of the day, a win is a win, and the Eagles are moving on to Week 2 with a perfect record intact.  It will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation progresses if Vick throws a couple more games like this, as Nick Foles was very impressive in preseason action.

The Bears are good, but can they overtake the Packers?

Brandon Marshall looked every bit as advertised on Sunday against the Colts, but we shouldn't overreact to the licking that the Bears put on the worst team in the league.  Having said that, there's plenty here.  A strong offense, finally with a weapon at the receiver position, and a very talented defense make the Bears one of the most balanced teams in the league.  If guys stay healthy, the Bears could be the NFC North champs when it's all said and done.  We will find out a lot about both these teams tomorrow night, and we will see who has some mental toughness coming off of a short week.

Second year QBs looked OK in Week 1

Ponder and Gabbert went against each other on Sunday, and both looked like they could be solid NFL quarterbacks this year.  I like Ponder better than Gabbert, but Gabbert put together a decent game.  Look for Ponder to be one of the most improved players this season, and hopefully Blaine will follow suit.

The NFC East and NFC North are the class of the league

With the Redskins on the rise, the NFC East looks to be the toughest division this year.  At the beginning of the season, it was definitely considered a 3-horse race, but after RG3's performance, we can now consider it a 4-team battle.  The NFC North is also incredibly competitive, with 3 teams in the upper echelon in the NFC.  The Vikings may struggle this year, but if Christian Ponder can improve as I think he is capable of, they could be right there at 8-8 when it's all said and done.  I still don't like their secondary, but Harrison Smith looked like a good addition on Sunday.  We all know what the Giants, Eagles, Cowboys, Packers, Lions and Bears are capable of, so either way, both of these divisions are great.

Check back next Wednesday for Week 2 Reactions.