1. I decided to do a Pro Bowl edition of ST&NO, to mark the occasion of what I believe is the first time I've ever deemed it worth my time to watch the Pro Bowl live. I expect that this will be the first of many for Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, and it should have been the first for Ryan Clady also.
2. Brandon Marshall dropped a TD pass on 4th down, and it really reminded me that he had some problems with that this season. He really needs to work on catching the ball this offseason. To his credit, he talked about working in the offseason to improve as a player, particularly in his quickness and explosiveness.
3. Not to belabor the Ryan Clady-got-snubbed point (too much,) but the Cutler interception in the 4th quarter doesn't happen if Ryan is there to block DeMarcus Ware. Michael Roos got beat like he stole something on that play. Roos is good, and so is Joe Thomas, but Clady is better than both of them. Jay should have taken the sack on that play, but Roos should have blocked his man.
4. Good sideline reporting by Andrea Kremer, regarding the effects of the heat on Jay's diabetes. She reported that his sugar was low at the beginning of the game, and they had to give him a lot of Gatorade to get where he should be.
5. Casey Wiegmann had a nice game in his first Pro Bowl. He really held up well against all the great interior players in the game. As much as I love Tom Nalen, I think Casey was better this year than Tom has been since about 2004 or so. I hope the Broncos give him a raise for this season to reward his performance, and ensure his return.
5. Flozell Adams is a terrible football player, and it's a travesty that he made the Pro Bowl. Right as I was typing this, he got a false start, and Freeney beet him for what should have been called a sack and a forced fumble near the end of the first half. On 3rd and 28, Brees called for protection help on Freeney. Flozell Adams, you are the weakest link.
6. Does anybody who would likely be watching the Pro Bowl be very interested in seeing Enrique Iglesias and Ciara sing at halftime? The NFL does a horrible job of selecting musical performers, the Boss's solid SB XLIII performance notwithstanding.
7. Well, Jon Gruden agrees with me about Tim Tebow. You're going to start hearing more of this as time goes on, and I think that he'll ultimately be the number 1 QB picked next season, ahead of Sam Bradford. I expect a reverse-Leinart effect here. Leinart would have probably been the top pick in 2005, but in coming back to school, gave scouts a chance to focus on his negatives, and he dropped to 10th overall in 2006.
By coming back, Tebow is going to continue to improve, and he'll give scouts a chance to focus on his positives, and become more comfortable with him. Florida is a heavy favorite to repeat as National Champions (the only terribly consequential player they lost was Percy Harvin, and they return all 11 defensive starters.) Assuming they do repeat, Tebow would have 3 national titles on his resume, and he won a state title in Florida as a high schooler too. There is no question that the guy makes football teams win.
The question that gets asked is, can he throw it well enough for the NFL? I say yes, and Gruden and Bill Belichick do too. Trust me, you're going to hear more and more of this as the season wears on, from more and more credible football people. Eventually, even the McShay/Kiper/Mayock set will start saying it too.
If Jon Gruden gets an NFL job next year, which is likely if he wants one, watch for him to do everything he can to draft Tebow. He's been looking for his new Rich Gannon for years, and hasn't found him. Maybe Tebow is the guy Chucky can finally stay in love with.
8. Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson are as good as gone from Kansas City. Gonzalez will bring back a 3rd rounder, but the Chiefs will end up having to cut Johnson. Nobody is going to give much of anything for that player, with that off-field history, at that age, and with that contract. Once he's cut, I could see him as a Buccaneer, an Eagle or a Saint, with an incentive-heavy, low exposure contract. He is on record, as to wanting to go to Dallas or the east coast.
9. I think it was a shrewd move for Matt Cassel to immediately sign the franchise offer from the Patriots. He is now guaranteed $14 Million+ for 2009, and if he's traded and signed by a new team, he'd be looking at an extension off of that amount, and not a new soup-to-nuts contract. If I were his agent, I would insist that that $14 Million not be considered part of a guarantee package, even though it is guaranteed. You're working off of an existing 1 year, $14 million deal. If I am his agent, I would require an extension for 5 years and $70 million, with $30 million guaranteed. That makes the whole deal 6 years, $84 million, with $44 million truly guaranteed. If the acquiring team won't sign it, there is no further negotiation. You have to give up a bunch of picks for a one-year rental at $14 million, period. Cassel holds all of the leverage here, and really, he can't lose. Even if he is back as Brady's backup, he gets paid, and the film on him is the same for next year. Would the Patriots really franchise him again next year at $18 million? Not too shabby for a lightly-used former backup.
10. On a related note, I wouldn't trade very much for the guy. He's not a franchise player, and the cost, in picks and dollars, is going to be way too high. The Patriots are banking on somebody being stupid/desperate enough to overpay for him. The MOST the Patriots would get out of me is 2 second round picks, like the Falcons got for Matt Schaub. That's the most pertinent deal to work off of here, in terms of both the contract, and the package to acquire the guy from the Patriots.