Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Peyton Manning continues to make Emily Post proud

Peyton Manning calls to say thanks
blogs.indystar.com

In my time on the beat, which began before Manning arrived in 1998 on a fill-in basis, no player has ever called to say farewell.

Manning said thanks for my work over the years. Classy move. He said everything had happened so fast, but he wanted to call the local writers and express his appreciation for what they had done while he was in Indy.

I’ve always said Manning is the most clever athlete I’ve ever dealt with when it came to how to handle the media. And while his critics will suggest this was just a PR move, I’ll confess I initially thought I wouldn’t write anything about the call. I didn’t want anybody to think it was about me.

As someone who strives to be professional, I am human and will choose to be a bit sentimental about this. I’ll always remember the phone call.

As I said to him, it was a first-class way to say farewell.

Surely, Mark Kiszla got a call just like this from Jay Cutler, right? Right?

“Predominantly orange” jerseys may reappear for two regular season games this year

New Uniforms and Old Traditions
blog.denverbroncos.com

The former alternate jersey becomes the new primary jersey, as worn by future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey at the unveiling in New York, the road while will stay the same, and Denver’s alternate jersey, which may be worn for two regular season games, now is the navy blue.

Sacco also mentions that the orange of Crush fame was originally intended to match the color of the Vols, but presumably they changed their minds once they realized Woody Paige was a Tennessee alum.

Demaryius Thomas, not sad about the end of Tebow Time

Demaryius Thomas on Tim Tebow: “I feel like he thinks he can take Sanchez’s spot. I feel good about Tim going out there.”
sportsradiointerviews.com

I ain’t going to say I was sad because the only thing they remember is that pass. You gotta go back and look at the rest of the games. I wasn’t getting no balls and you had to make some of these plays where some players were open and he is not making the throws, but I don’t want to talk bad about Tim, but hey I am happy we got Peyton.

There wasn’t much talk about him, but you know everything on ESPN was all about Tim. That bothered some players too because they would say ‘Tim Tebow Time.’ I felt like it was a team thing. If it wasn’t for the defense most of the time there wouldn’t be no supposed ‘Tim Tebow Time.’

To cover the bases, Tim Tebow did actually target Thomas a fair amount - 81 times (for just 42 receptions) in 12 games, including playoffs. As for how many of those throws were catchable, that's another story. By PFF's measure, only one of those targets was picked off, and six were dropped by Demaryius.

In another interview, Thomas says a plate and three screws were recently removed from the left pinky he had injured last year. DT also sounds like he was as surprised to go at #22 in the draft to Denver as we all were, and he admits it will "be kind of tough" to adjust to Peyton Manning's acumen at changing plays at the LOS.

Andrew Mason joins IAOFM in Zombieland and lives to tell the tale

IMLTHO*: Responses Worth a Reply, and an Epiphany at Speakers’ Corner
www.maxdenver.com

Tebow never said anything to which I objected until now. If someone wants to take a knee and pray in the corner of the game or end zone, fine. If he wants to answer his first press conference question with “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” I can live with it; it seems to be an odd non-sequitur because it is neither germane to the topic broached by the inquisitor nor to the subject at hand: football. But it’s his thing. I didn’t use the quotes about his faith unless it was tied to the topic at hand, which I found to rarely be the case.

This is a fascinating piece by Mason.  He responds to the hail of criticism he received the other day when he challenged Tim Tebow's assertion that the United States was founded as "One nation under god."

Mason also notes that not one reader responded with thoughts on his mention of Wesley Duke, the former tight end for the Broncos.

Not even Debbie Sandoval. Of course, Debbie Sandoval has never heard of Wesley Duke, we're quite sure.

What we appreciate most about Mason here is that he loaded up his metaphorical shotgun and went a little Zombieland. Keep up the good work, Mason. We're considering giving you the Zombie Kill of the Week.

Rang: Teams seeking exodus from top 10

NFL Exec: 'Half of the teams in the top 10 are trying to trade out'
www.cbssports.com

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman made waves a few days ago when he commented that he’d be willing to make a trade out of the No. 3 overall pick while his team was on the clock. While last moment deals are common over the course of the NFL draft, don’t fool yourself into thinking that these deals aren’t being discussed long before the curtains are raised at Radio City Music Hall. In fact, one NFL executive told me to anticipate plenty of fireworks as “half of the teams in the top 10 are trying to trade out.”

FWIW, Cincy has two picks in the bottom half of the first round, while Philly has two second-rounders. New England has two picks in each of the first and second rounds, but only two picks beyond that.

Parcells turns down Saints, who will look inward for interim coach

Parcells tells Saints he won't unretire to coach team in 2012
www.nfl.com

Bill Parcells has informed the New Orleans Saints the he will not replace suspended coach Sean Payton and is staying retired, according to a league source.

The Saints will now look to hire from within the organization. By promoting an assistant on the team, the Saints will not have to interview a minority candidate in accordance with the league’s Rooney Rule.

Who wants Parcells without Bill Belichick running the defense, anyway?

Christmas Ape is bummed that neither Tuna nor the Dunge will be taking over in N'awlins.

Peyton Manning furious if he doesn’t hit you in the chest

Peyton Manning working with WRs
espn.go.com

“The guy’s still throwing the ball a long time, throwing it great, hitting you in the right spot,” Decker told Cowherd. “He’s such a perfectionist. If he hits you in the belly button, he gets mad at himself for not hitting you in the chest. It’s unbelievable to be around a guy who has those standards for himself.”

“He’s so precise with everything he does and there’s a reason for everything he does do,” Decker told Cowherd. “In workouts, in the weight room—I mean the guy’s jogging from station to station. He’s working like he’s a 23-year-old free agent coming out of college. The way he talks about football, the way he runs drill work, routes, everything’s gotta be perfect and there’s no gray area. I think that, as a receiver, (is) the best thing about it. You got a leader that demands the best out of you because he gives the best he’s got.”

“Obviously that’s the goal for every team starting the season but I know that we’re willing to put in the work and put in the extra time in the offseason to make that happen,” Decker told said. “I think we really understand that it’s all about reading defenses, being smart, finding the open zone and just hitting the passes on third down and converting because that’s what keeps drives going, that’s what keeps you in ballgames.”

Memo to Broncos wide receivers: dropped passes will not be tolerated.

Don’t be shocked if the Broncos go WR with their first pick

A.F.C. West Team Needs
fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com

Hidden need: wide receiver

True, Peyton Manning can turn copper receivers into gold. But he would much rather polish a receiver who is golden in the first place. He does not have one in Denver. Demaryius Thomas made some big plays last season down the stretch, but he does not run with the over-the-top burst of a true playmaker (even if Ike Taylor begs to differ). Thomas is just a very good possession/stretched-intermediary target. Eric Decker is something of a watered-down Thomas. Andre Caldwell and Matt Willis show flashes as rotational slot guys but aren’t go-to weapons.

I agree with Benoit.  It wouldn't surprise me in the least if the Broncos decided to take someone like Kendall Wright (Baylor), Rueben Randle (LSU), and perhaps, just perhaps, Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech at pick #25.

The goal?  Give Peyton Manning more ammunition.

It sounds crazy, given the needs at DT (and to be clear, I'm not advocating they do anything other than draft a DT with both their first and second picks).  But who needs a defensive tackle when you're up by two touchdowns in the 2nd quarter, and the other team is forced to abandon the running game?

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).