Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Commish upholds Saints punishments

Saints 'bounty' scandal discipline upheld by NFL Commissioner
www.nfl.com

The New Orleans Saints, along with coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt, were notified Monday that after careful consideration of their appeals, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld the discipline that was imposed for continuing violations of the league’s anti-bounty rule that endangered player safety over a three-year period.

Not that we're surprised or anything.

Payton's suspension will begin on April 16, and from then on he cannot have any contact with the team until at least after the Super Bowl, when he can apply for reinstatement to the league.

Ben Watson scored 12X Morris Claiborne’s Wonderlic, gives needed perspective

Ex-Patriot Benjamin Watson, who scored one of the highest scores ever, talks Wonderlic
www.bostonherald.com

How much do teams actually factor in the standardized 50-question test? The Pats have had some pretty good Wonderlic guys, most notably tight end Benjamin Watson. He scored a 48.

”Does a higher Wonderlic mean you’ll perform better on the football field? It might, or it might not,” said Watson, who was signed by Cleveland as a free agent in 2010. ”A person’s football ability might be totally different than their ability to score high on an aptitude test. I mean, I understand why the test is there. They want to have some type of standardized benchmark. They want to compare, and keep everyone on the same level. But when you look at it, a Wonderlic score doesn’t have as much to do with football as your film does in college and your body of work.”

Clearly, it doesn't take a Wonderlic wonder to play NFL football.  In fact, I'd say the only time the Wonderlic has real significance is when one debates (over a beer) John Elway and Dan Marino.

It's worth repeating (especially to Marino himself, who is very annoyed by the fact): Marino scored a 15 on his Wonderlic, and although he won a lot of passing titles, he could never figure out the zone blitz.  Here's a paragraph describing Marino from the book Blood, Sweat, and Chalk:

"The newness of the scheme was what really made it fun in those years, with Pittsburgh and Carolina," says [Dom] Capers. "Teams weren't ready for it.  There were very good teams that had a lot of trouble with it.  Miami had real problems, because Dan Marino had become so accustomed to making man-to-man reads that the fire zones really seemed to confuse him." [Dick] LeBeau recalls talking to Marino after a game and asking him what reads he was making: "He said, 'I had no idea what I was reading.'"

The zone blitz is another reason why Marino (and Jim Kelly, who also scored a 15) liked to run the no huddle.  The defense didn't have time to call a zone blitz. It left Marino (and his feeble mind) with man-to-man coverage; further, it allowed him to use his real talent: his cannon arm.

(Note & disclaimer: Author is biased to John Elway, the Denver Broncos; he hates anyone who suggests that Dan Marino or Jim Kelly is a better quarterback than the Broncos' current executive).

John Elway 2.0: designer jeans, $100 hair, and ready to kick ass

The rebirth of John Elway
espn.go.com

Wearing designer jeans, a leather jacket and looking like he just walked out of a Beverly Hills hair salon, John Elway smiled winningly, shaking hands and offering quick quips as he breezed through. In the often stodgy world of the NFL, Elway was working the combine his own way. NFL front-office leaders are usually not the leather-jacket-and-$100-dollar-haircut types. Neither are they Super Bowl winning, Hall of Fame quarterbacks…

...“I think people underestimated how hungry John was and his love for the Broncos,” Ellis said. “He’s been waiting to do this. He brings a deep skill set, including a willingness to roll up his sleeves and work hard. … He has a terrific, deep base of football knowledge and he commands strong business skills. He is perfect for the big picture of our organization.”

Elway has been praised by people inside the organization for not having any ego and for his willingness to learn on the job. “He knows what he doesn’t know,” one team employee said. Agents around the league have been impressed with Elway’s professionalism and knowledge of players and contract situations. They have found him easy to deal with.

His first move may have been his most important. Elway and Fox have meshed beautifully, insiders say, and they have similar personalities and approaches.

Never underestimate the power of designer jeans.

Peyton Manning wrote letter to Dolphins explaining his decision

Were Miami Dolphins misled about Peyton Manning?
blogs.sun-sentinel.com

Never mind the fact the Denver Broncos, which eventually landed Manning, had four times the amount of cap space as the Dolphins. Ignore the South Florida condo the Manning family SHARES, which Peyton Manning used as his offseason home while training with Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon this offseason. Overlook the fact Manning personally told certain Dolphins figures he’d love to play for the team before being released by the Colts.

How did the Dolphins miscalculate Manning’s interest level so badly? “I felt like a lot of people,” owner Steve Ross said at the NFL’s owners meeting last week. I’m GUESSING Ross felt played, just like he did with Jeff Fisher?

“He’d been at two teams his whole life and I think he judged it based on the fact where he would feel most comfortable, where he had familiar faces around him because that’s what he was used to,” said Ross, who received a letter from Manning explaining his decision-making process.

My hope is Manning explained to Ross that his camp kept the Dolphins in the conversation purposely to drive up the asking price, which turned into $96 million over five-years.

For the benefit of Dolphins fans everywhere, here is a sample Wonderlic question to give some needed perspective:

Who would you rather play for?

  1. John Elway
  2. Jeff Ireland
  3. Chucky Manson
  4. Foghorn Leghorn

Don’t expect Gregg Williams to be reinstated anytime soon

Greg Williams Saints Bounty Audio
www.youtube.com

Kill the head, and the body will die. We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head…We want his head sideways. Little 32, we want to knock the f#$% out of him.

We hit f#$%in’ Smith right there (points to chin). Remember me, I’ve got the first one. I’ve got the first one (rubs fingers together indicating cash payment).

Good luck with that appeal today, Saints...

Chiefs Lilja: everyone wants to crown the Broncos, but Matt Cassel is taking us places

Chiefs' Lilja offers a full-throated defense of quarterback Cassel
www.sunherald.com

“But Matt’s the guy, and Matt’s going to take us places. Matt’s a general in the huddle. People don’t see how hard he works. They don’t see the stuff he plays through, because we don’t talk about it. But take my word for it: There aren’t many guys I’d rather play with.”

“I’m perfectly content with the Denver Broncos and their situation and them bringing him in. They’re already building Lombardi trophies for them, it sounds like to me. I like that. Nobody thinks we can do much. That’s kind of a fun place to be in. Time will tell.”

Part of the fun of being a fan is the ability to gloat when your team wins in the offseason.

Fact: the Chiefs desperately wanted a shot at Peyton Manning.  They didn't even make it past the rope line.

Ryan Lilja can delude himself all he wants (and he probably needs to in order to wear ketchup and mustard every Sunday), but the only place Matt Cassel is taking the Chiefs is to the bottom of the AFC West.

Amobi Okoye mystery continues, but will supposedly sign with someone soon

Bears signal DT Okoye on way out
www.chicagotribune.com

The Bears have hoped to re-sign Amobi Okoye but speaking on a conference call with season-ticket holders, the general manager said the defensive tackle likely is headed elsewhere.

“Right now, Amobi is trying to decide which direction he is going,” Emery said. “We’ve had conversations with him. So far, we have not been able to work out a deal. Amobi is probably going in a different direction.”

Dan Pompei added this tweet today as well:

Chances of Amobi Okoye returning to Bears are fading fast. Could sign with a new team soon.

What is soon?  Okoye was supposed to visit Cincinnati on Tuesday, but that was pushed back so the Bengals' coaching staff could attend Notre Dame's pro day.  Nothing signals a team's desire to sign a free agent more than rescheduling to go watch a pro day.

The Broncos were supposedly one of the five teams interested in Okoye.  The other include the Bengals, Bears, Bucs, and Patriots.

The Bears look to be out.  The Bengals may have botched their opportunity.  And we've not heard whispers of Okoye visiting any other teams.

Do the Broncos suddenly enter the picture--and fast?

Shanny’s spider sense told him where Manning would sign—that and his cap situation

Peyton Manning's fitness did not concern Mike Shanahan
www.washingtontimes.com

“I don’t think anybody is convinced until he’s ready to go,” Shanahan said when asked his belief about Manning’s health. “Knowing him, knowing his work ethic, knowing his passion for the game, I would be shocked if he’s not ready to go – just knowing him and how he prepares and how hard he works…

...“It was kind of just interesting, fun to sit down and talk football for a number of hours,” Mike Shanahan said. “At the end I had a feeling what direction he may go, especially with our situation with the cap – which I can’t talk about in detail. We had a good conversation.”

The Mastermind.  I guess he knew all along and just didn't tell us.

With a great base tan comes great responsibility.

Polian: Manning isn’t de facto OC, likes to run the ball

Broncs bomber: How Denver will transition from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning
insider.espn.go.com

Peyton is not an offensive coordinator, nor does he want to be one. That’s a pure misconception. He’ll give his input on McCoy’s playbook, and he’ll certainly have the ability to call multiple plays in the huddle and audible at the line. But Peyton always worked within a system in Indianapolis, and he’ll do the same in Denver.

To dispel another misconception about Peyton, he actually likes to rely on the running game. Our most successful offensive play in Indianapolis was a play-action pass off a stretch play, which worked only when we were picking up yards on the ground from the actual stretch play.

Overall, I’d expect Denver’s offense to be a work in progress as everyone adjusts to a new quarterback and a new system. But I’d bet that the offense will take off in the second half of the season, making the Broncos legitimate championship contenders.

These quotes are from an ESPN Insider/Mag column by former Colts GM Bill Polian; the rest is mostly the typical "Peyton works really hard" and "Peyton is brilliant" stuff, plus Polian reiterates his high opinion of Denver's line (probably since the one he himself put together for Indy was so poor in recent years) and expects new tight ends Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen to light it up in the early going.

Ryan Leaf is desperately addicted to painkillers, arrested a second time in two days

Former QB Leaf arrested again in Montana after burglary
www.nfl.com

HELENA, Mont.—Two days after posting bail for drug and burglary charges, former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf has been arrested a second time in Montana…

...Hickman says the new charges stem from a burglary on Sunday—two days after Leaf was arrested and charged with burglarizing an acquaintance’s home for prescription painkillers.

This story was only slightly amusing the first time.  Now it's just sad.

The guy needs help.