Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

John Fox: the Browns are a lot more awesomer than you think, people

Not Judging Browns by Record
www.denverbroncos.com

“They’re 3-0 versus our division,” Head Coach John Fox said. “They’ve won three out of four of their last games. Really, that was a close game last week against Washington. They’ve got good players. I’ve said all year long, we don’t look at team’s records, we look at the tape and they’re very capable.”

Although I may not be the biggest John Fox supporter when it comes to strategy, I do love the dude's ability to keep a straight face while telling everyone to fear the Cleveland Browns.

After all, they've beaten the Chiefs, the Raiders, and the Chargers (by one point).

Stop laughing.  Fear Cleveland.

Von or Aldon - tough choice? Not so much

Von Miller vs. Aldon Smith: Which pass rusher is superior?
www.nfl.com

When you really study the skills that each player brings to the table, it’s hard to go wrong with either man. Smith is a dominant pass rusher with intriguing skills and a non-stop motor. While he is still refining parts of his game, it’s tough to dispute his effectiveness. Miller is a monster playmaker off the edge with a game that is polished in every aspect. He can rush the passer from the linebacker position or as a defensive end, or he can play in coverage. Given that he has such a versatile and explosive game, Miller gets the nod in a close debate.

Don't get us wrong - anyone would take Aldon Smith for their team. But choosing between him and Von Miller? That's an easier choice than Bucky Brooks portrays.

Smith leads Miller in sacks by 3.5, but Von is ahead in tackles for loss, by wider a 25-17 margin; PFF has Miller down for 82 pressures and an overall grade of +77.9, which both dwarf Smith's impressive 65 pressures and 19.8 grade. The difference is Von's completeness, thanks to his vastly improved play against the run and in coverage.

Smith's a great player in his own right, but Miller is a superstar who is already surpassing comparisons to his idol Derrick Thomas, and instead should be measured against the great Lawrence Taylor.

The Cutler Show

The many faces of Jay Cutler
www.sportsonearth.com

“You know, I’m becoming more and more aware of it. Parts of me just say, ‘Hey, forget it, just play your game.’ The PR people are always in my ear, ‘Camera here! Camera here! Watch this! Watch that!’ So it’s a mixed bag.”

On one hand, good for Jay - that he prefers being his true self - over letting the Jim Saccomanos of the world choreograph his facial expressions.

On the other, we sure are glad that Jay's there, and Peyton's here.

John Elway, the epitome of team player

‘Coaching Confidential’: Q. and A. With Gary Myers
fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com

Shanahan also told me that John Elway once offered him $300,000 out of his own pocket to leave San Francisco and coach the Broncos. Shanahan, who had worked two different times with Elway in Denver, turned him down, but returned to the Broncos two years later.

Or, a guy who desperately wanted someone other than Dan Reeves calling plays for him.

Clayton: Elway best exec for getting Manning, dumping Tebow

Who is the best exec?
espn.go.com

Elway found a way to resolve the Tim Tebow problem. Tebow may not be an accurate quarterback, but he is popular. Too popular. Tebowmania wore down a pretty good quarterback in Kyle Orton. When John Fox put Tebow into the starting role, it may have been painful watching the offense, but Tebow won games.  I’m sure Tebow fans wondered how anyone would think of replacing him after he won a playoff game over Pittsburgh. Elway didn’t blink.

Elway thinks in terms of Super Bowls, not 8-8 seasons. Getting Manning prevented the Broncos from falling into a future of offense mediocrity and put them in the Super Bowl hunt if he stayed healthy. Even better, Elway was able to get trade value for Tebow, who went to the Jets. Tebow made headlines in New York, but the Jets are out of the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

People also forget Elway solved the Tebow problem in the most gracious of ways: he gave Tebow a choice between the Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars, despite the fact that the Jaquars offered more in total compensation.

Wait--isn't getting less value a mark against being Exec of the Year?

Did we mention he bagged Peyton Manning?

Mike Silver hittin’ da crack

Voter bias for QBs must cease, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson deserves NFL MVP award
sports.yahoo.com

Just as the last running back to win MVP, LaDainian Tomlinson, did so on the strength of eye-popping numbers — 1,815 rushing yards, 508 receiving yards and an NFL-record 31 touchdowns, 28 on the ground — Peterson’s 2012 campaign is too extraordinary to be ignored.

I’m even willing to apply an old most valuable litmus test: Close your eyes and picture the Vikings without Peterson. Would they be anywhere near a wild-card berth? Would they have beaten the Rams last Sunday? Would Ponder and head coach Leslie Frazier be in danger of losing their jobs?

Now open your eyes and watch Peterson run, on this or any Sunday. He’ll make his case with clarity and ferocity, all day.

Imagine the Vikings without Peterson?

Okay, I just did.  At worst they're probably 3-13 like they were last year.  At best, they're struggling to make the wild card.

Big deal.

Imagine the Broncos without Manning?  At worst they're probably 5-11 or 6-10; further, they're struggling to emerge from a cesspool that includes the Chiefs and Raiders.

At best?  You're seeing it right now--they're quite possibly the best team in football.

He’s no CPOY, but the Slot Machine deserves mention

Peterson, Peyton astound, but don't forget these other comeback tales
sportsillustrated.cnn.com

It’s good to have friends in high places, and in Denver, nobody resides in the same stratosphere these days as Peyton Manning. At least in part, a relationship with the Broncos new quarterback was how Stokley’s improbable return to the NFL unfolded.

Let us also not forget that Stokes played some role (host, bicyclist partner for game of catch) in making Peyton's initial visit to Denver a familiar, and thus comfortable one. Does Peyton still sign with Denver without Stokley's presence and hospitality? Probably so. But we can't know for certain, and it doesn't matter.

He won't get any votes for Comeback POY, but for having headed to Duke in February and opened his home to buddy Peyton in March, we say, Thank You, Brandon Stokley.

Rex Ryan baffles everyone yet again

Jets play Tim Tebow for a drive; nobody understands why
www.usatoday.com

The five-play drive included two rushes from Tebow, a sack, and a delay-of-game penalty that set up a third-and-16, which resulted in a scrambling Tebow throwing the ball away.

All of this had Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden scratching his head.

“I’m not sure what they wanted to accomplish there,” Gruden said. “Sanchez moved the team in his first two possessions, and they had good field position. That was a mystery to me. I’m just not quite sure what they want to accomplish with Tim Tebow as a quarterback in this offense. Clearly, they’re confused, I’m confused, and I think a lot of people at home are, as well.”

Rex Ryan finally gave Tim Tebow a series.  Yes, a series.  Tebow pretty much bombed, but then he watched Sanchez throw four interceptions and botch a fumble in the last minute of the game.  So I must simply disagree with Gruden that Sanchez moved anyone anywhere--all season.  Why Ryan never made a move to Tebow in the red zone this year when the games mattered is beyond me.  Tebow may not be a great quarterback, but the very thing Ryan is known for--grounding and pounding--is the very thing Tebow excels at.  Rex Ryan truly baffles the mind (and the feet).   

Something tells me had Tebow known Ryan was going to play him just enough to confuse the hell out of everyone, Tebow would have taken the deal to Jacksonville in a second.  If I'm Tebow (did I just write that?), I'm doing everything in my power to get my hulking ass down to Jacksonville next year and start anew in a place that has the time and the ticket-sales capacity to give the spread option a serious go.  

Something also tells me that the quarterback of the New York Jets is not currently on their roster.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Manning: D.T. Still Huge

Spreading the Ball Around
www.denverbroncos.com

“I know Decker had a good day today,” Manning said after the team’s win against the Ravens. “D.T. probably didn’t have the numbers that he’s been having, but his presence, I can assure you, is a huge part of what is going on out there.”

Translation: "I know the weakest link in the opponent's pass coverage, and I'm going to exploit it."

In a related note, Ravens cornerback Cary Williams is still experiencing some lingering pain from the second-degree burns suffered during yesterday's contest against Denver.  

Brandon Weeden to have misfortune of facing Broncos on Sunday

Cleveland Browns' Pat Shurmur will stick with QB Brandon Weeden despite bad game vs. Redskins
www.cleveland.com

Browns coach Pat Shurmur said today he’ll stick with Brandon Weeden despite his poor outing against the Redskins.

He said he still think he’s the long-term answer at quarterback. “Yeah, I’m looking forward to him having a much better game in Denver.’‘

Judging by this column, and this throw-by-throw critique, it doesn't appear there's a whole lot of patience being provided Weeden in Cleveland; wait 'til the old rookie gets a load of the best pass defense he'll have faced all season, by far.

The glow of yesterday's win and last night's Patriots loss is still warm, but it's never too early to predict that the Broncos are going to annihilate the Browns next Sunday.