At this point, we all know the basics of the bounty accusations that have been levied against current and former members of the Saints organization. The issues of appropriate due process - which we must recognize is not guaranteed in a business setting - are very much up for debate as a result of this circumstance. It’s not the first time that the question of exactly how the commissioner’s office reaches and justifies its findings has been open to considerable and often understandable debate.
This isn’t just a response to Bountygate. It’s something that I’ve contemplated for years now, stretching back to when Roger Goodell was the league's COO under Paul Tagliabue, and he became well known for his constant effort to monetize the league's product (ie. seat licenses, NFL Network). In watching the kangaroo court-type decisions that he’s often handed down over the years, it’s obvious that an elephant in the living room is the underlying distrust and distaste of the players for him on that basis.
I’m not going to go back and hit on specific cases, one by one. Most fans are familiar with several - the substance abuse accusations that resulted in the infamous Star Caps trial, the suspension, eventual reinstatement and subsequent banning of Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, as well as the various and often inscrutable determinations of fines for different hits on players and so forth - all are common experiences among the fan base. What I want to consider goes deeper than individual debates about those incidents to the continuing pattern of randomness I’ve seen in many of Goodell's rulings.
There’s a reason it feels like Turner always starts the season on the hot seat: He does. Under Turner, the Chargers haven’t won a playoff game since the 2008 season and the San Diego fan base is more than a little restless. Despite having two years left on his contract, it was widely thought that Turner’s failure to make the playoffs for the second straight season in 2011 would result in his dismissal. However, team president Dean Spanos decided to stay the course with both Turner and general manager A.J. Smith. I can’t imagine they will be as fortunate if they fail to make the playoffs this season.
...Most of the pressure on Manning will be the result of his past production. His résumé is ridiculous: He’s a four-time MVP and 11-time Pro Bowl selection. And he’s thrown for more than 4,000 yards an amazing 11 times! Not counting last year, he’s never tossed fewer than 26 touchdowns in a season. To put that in perspective, the Broncos haven’t had a quarterback throw that many touchdown passes since Jake Plummer did it in 2004.
It's positively delicious that Peyton Manning could drive the nail in Turner's powder blue coffin while at the same time popping the hot-air ballon that is AJ Smith's head.
No, I won't mention that quarterback stat. I'm going to close my eyes and pretend I didn't read it.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The he said/she said of the league's bounty investigation continues. On Monday, NFL outside counsel Mary Jo White told reporters that Mike Ornstein had corroborated a claim that Jonathan Vilma put $10K each on the heads of Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. But in an interview with PFT's Mike Florio, Ornstein vigorously and repeatedly denies ever having done so. Vilma responded to this news by suggesting the NFL is lying.
Vilma's ex-teammate Anthony Hargrove, accused by the NFL of saying, "Give me the money" on the Saints sideline after injuring Favre, read a lengthy statement claiming it wasn't he who spoke those words.
Meanwhile, Florio says that when the NFL ended up showing some reporters a bit of their evidence on Monday, they did so having decided to do so on the fly, perhaps realizing they were losing the PR battle. Plus, the league is giving the suspended players a chance to challenge the evidence via written submissions; the Ginger Hammer will meet with Senator Dick Durbin today, and the two will speak publicly afterward.
Updated 9:08 am ET
Jack Del Rio Calls Broncos’ Defensive Coordinator Turnaround ‘Unusual’
“We want to be Top 5 in everything that we do, and so that’s what we’ve set our goals for,” he said. “We’ve got a ways to go.”
Del Rio had some of the best defensive lines when he coached in Jacksonville, and he said he’s not at all worried about the Broncos’ defensive line. “I’m not worried about it, I’m working it; and that’s what we have to do,” he said. “We’ve got to work to fix whatever problems we have. Obviously last year the defensive tackle position here went the entire year without a sack. That’s going to change.”
He said having Ty Warren healthy and drafting Derek Wolfe is going to help the cause.
Recall previously that Del Rio had said the Broncos want to be a top-10 defense. It appears as if those numbers have adjusted in the right direction.
Do you hear what I hear? Why, it's the sound of Del Rio's brass balls clanking together as he walks.
In football, I’m an offense guy, going way back to when I was a kid. I’ve always thought deeply about the passing game, and been able to really see concepts, and understand why they do what they do. This is despite not playing the game at a high level, or coaching at any level above Pop Warner. I just feel offense, and as such, I’ve read dozens of books written about offense and watched hundreds of games, and the result is that I can do what I do with the subject matter.
In transitioning out of my current job, I have a couple of visitors in Cleveland to document my processes, and one of them paid me the compliment Monday of saying that I do a good job of explaining complicated things. I appreciated her saying that, and really, I think that it stems from the writing I’ve done on football sites over the last four years. I know what knowledge I ultimately want to share, and I plan out a logical way of getting there, all while making sure all of the important interim knowledge points along the way are disseminated in an order which makes sense, and which lays a strong foundation for holistic understanding of the major knowledge item at the end. Like Lester Freamon said, we’re building something here, and we’re building it from scratch, and all the pieces matter.
Peyton Manning is the NFL’s highest-paid player with earnings of $42.4 million, which ranks 10th overall. The Indianapolis Colts paid Manning $26.4 million in 2011 even though he missed the season recovering from neck surgery. Manning joined the Denver Broncos as a free agent in March, when he inked a five-year, $96 million contract that paid him a $6 million advance on his 2012 Broncos’ salary. Manning continues to be the NFL’s top pitchman, earning $10 million annually off the field from Reebok, Gatorade, Sony, DirecTV, Wheaties and Papa John’s.
Two earn Manning Scholarship
“The scholarship has always brought me back to the University of Tennessee every year,” Manning said. “It makes me feel old now that we’re up in the teens as how many we’ve given. This year, we’re giving two, and we’ve always just given one. The scholarship that I won as a student-athlete was put in an endowment and was matched and added to by the university, and this year, Ashley and I added one donation back to the university. We wanted to give two because it’s such a great program for these scholars to get into, because they automatically get into the Haslam Scholars Program, which is just outstanding. It’s been a special connection for me to not just the football program but the entire university.”
Good Morning, Broncos fans! There was plenty of drama yesterday in NYC, where the NFL held the appeal hearing for the Saints bounty case.
Saints LB Jonathan Vilma left the hearing early, claiming the league refused to present evidence of the alleged bounty system. Vilma's lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, called the day's events "shocking and shameful" while saying that former DC Gregg Williams and former assistant Michael Cerullo had retracted their admissions that players had participated in such a system. Ginsberg accused the Ginger Hammer of distorting facts, misrepresenting the words attributed to Williams, and manipulating the media via information leaks.
Following the hearing, the league gathered a group of reporters, including Mike Freeman and Peter King, to present some of the evidence, which can be seen here. A $35K bounty was allegedly placed on Vikings QB Brett Favre during the 2009 NFC title game, but this is according to a typed transcription of handwritten notes which were not shown. The league even accused Saints interim coach Joe Vitt of contributing to the bounty fund for the first time yesterday.
When we started talking about third downs last week, I put up a set of numbers on how many third downs Brian Billick said that you could expect per game. Some readers found it light on total first downs, and they were right. Part of the reason the number seems low was that I left a set out deliberately - the number of third downs that you should expect in the red zone. It’s an entire area of study on its own, and I’m going to talk about it separately next time.
For today, we’re going to take on the offensive coordinator’s headache - third and long, both third and 7-10 yards and third and eleven or more. They are handled in much the same way, but the odds of success are understandably different.
There’s nothing surprising about it. The toughest third downs are the longer ones, just as you’d expect. When you’re dealing with a third down and more than ten yards, your odds of success are down between 12% and 18% for getting a first down. It’s a little better at 7-10 yards - about 20-25%. You can’t overestimate the importance of gaining your average of four or more yards on first and second down - how well you convert your third downs depends on it.
KOA Q&A – Elway, Part Two
850 KOA: What do you think this offense will look like this season? Will it look like what Broncos fans saw when they watched the Colts? Will it be a combination of different personnel groups?
JE: I think there’s a misconception out there a little about Peyton in that they (the Colts) didn’t run the football in Indianapolis. When they were successful in Indianapolis, they ran the football. What we’re looking for is balance. When we won the championships back in the 90’s, we had balance. Willis McGahee had a great year last year. (Mario) Fannin, the young kid we signed as a free agent last year out of Auburn, is coming back off a knee injury in camp. (He) looks good. And then (Ronnie) Hillman, who we drafted in the third round, is a guy that has big-play ability. I think you’re still going to see good balance. I think the misconception is that Peyton throws the ball all the time but when they were winning and doing well, they were top 12 in the league in rushing.
If you had any doubt about the Broncos' plans for Knowshon Moreno, you've got clarity now.
Perhaps the mention of Knowshon Moreno slipped John Elway's mind. What's more likely, though, is Moreno will compete with Jeremiah Johnson and Lance Ball for a spot on the roster. Unfortunately, with each passing season, the expectations for the former first-rounder continue to plummet. He's now--in John Elway's mind--less valuable than two guys who have yet to see the field.
What also sticks out from this interview is the Broncos' plan to use more two-back sets than Manning is used to in short-yardage situations--precisely the reason they acquired Chris Gronkowski.