Category Archives: NFL FREE AGENCY 2014

5 Takeaways From Notre Dame @ FSU

Chris Schisler

The Florida State Seminoles beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last night, in Tallahassee. Both teams entered the showdown with an undefeated record and hopes for the inaugural 4 team playoff. Here are 5 things to take away from the college football game.

1.) Another Close Call For FSU:
The Seminoles were dominating last season but are just scrapping by. A rare offensive pass interference penalty negated Notre Dame’s last minute touchdown. It was a lucky way to win. FSU trailed most of the night. The Seminoles win streak extends to an astonishing 23 games. The win streak survives and so does their top 5 ranking.

2.) Do These Teams Deserve Their Rank?

Until somebody beats Florida State, they will remain a top team in College Football. Computers no longer matter, style points are less important than they used to be. A case could be made though that their are 5 teams better than FSU; 4 of them in the SEC West. The number 2 team in the country should dominate opponents and certainly should not have the close calls that the Seminoles have had.

It was certainly a bad night for Irish fans. The Fighting Irish strength of schedule has not been stellar before the FSU game. Their signature win was against Stanford. Stanford just got shellacked against Arizona State, suffering their third loss. This game was a squandered opportunity for Notre Dame to prove their worth.

Florida State barely scrapped by a team that I was hesitant to buy stock in. There are still some challenging tests on their schedule. Going to Louisville after this big win looks like a trap game. Boston College and Virginia can provide a test for that defense.

3.) Winston Struggled Against Blitz

Jameis Winston was certainly fallible last evening. Against the blitz, on multiple occasions, Winston blindly launched the football over the middle of the field. Only one of these throws were intercepted and it could have gone much worse for FSU. Winston did much better in the second half.

Winston struggled when the pressure got right on him. Kirk Herbstreit, the commentator, compared him to Ben Roethlisberger. He never gives up on the play and with size and athletic ability, he loves to improvise. NFL draft scouts are going to want him to learn to throw the ball away. The way to beat FSU is to shred the defense and let Winston beat himself. It almost worked last night.

4.) Credit Where Credit Is Due
Last night we were treated to a crown jewel of a football game. A star was born in Corey Robinson. Robinson is tall, has great vertical ability and really good hands. The sophomore will be a high draft pick some day. Everett Golson was magnificent last night. He kept his eyes down field and showed great awareness. He extended plays that had no chance. The defensive line of Notre Dame was phenomenal. It was a great game against two good teams; a thought that gets lost in the “What does it mean” narrative.

5.) Really Ref?
The offensive pass interference was highly controversial. Yes the little pick play is illegal but it is seldom called. In the biggest moment of the game the referees took the spotlight. The touchdown may have occurred anyway. I hate to see that, a great game in the officials’ hands. At the end of the day, you can’t put the ref in that position. Its still a rough way to lose a huge football game.

The offensive coaching staff: Breaking down what to expect

By John Langley

The Baltimore Ravens revamped their offensive staff in the off-season in part to the fact that former offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell, took the head coaching vacancy with the Detroit Lions. The Ravens were meticulous in their approach to find a new mind to lead the offense to new levels, and after a lengthy process, head coach John Harbaugh decided to hand over the reigns to Gary Kubiak, a noted offensive mind and former Houston Texans head coach.

With Kubiak came a plethora of new coaches, whether that be a good thing or a bad thing. The Ravens hired Rick Dennison to be the quarterbacks coach the same day as they hired Kubiak, signaling a “package deal” with the two. The funny thing about this is Dennison was actually the one who was interviews initially by Harbaugh and recommended that he call Kubiak, and from there, the rest is history.

With Kubiak came a new wide receivers coach in Bobby Engram, a former NFL player, Brian Pariani to be the tight ends coach, Thomas Hammock to be the runningbacks coach, and Juan Castillo remaining as the offensive line coach.

Gary Kubiak: Offensive Coordinator

Kubiak brings a wealth of experience to the table from his days as the offensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos and as the play-caller with the Houston Texans when he was the head coach. Kubiak loves to use two tight end sets, which explains the signing of Owen Daniels and the use of a third round pick on Crockett Gilmore. Expect the base offensive set to be a single runningback with two tight ends and two wide receivers.

Kubiak likes to get the quarterback out of the pocket, something many believe is a bad thing for quarterback Joe Flacco. If Flacco has shown one thing in his time, it is that he is deceptively athletic. This by no means means that Flacco is burning linebackers for 40-yard gains, but he can move the pocket, which is beneficial in a zone-scheme like Kubiak’s. Expect some roll-outs, play-action passes and some shots down the field, which will be predicated on being set up by an effective running game. Kubiak had this in Houston with Arian Foster, so whoever is playing runningback for the Ravens will need to be effective.

Thomas Hammock: Runningbacks Coach

Hammock comes from the University of Wisconsin where he helped coach runningbacks like Montee Ball and James White. Wisconsin is known for being a running team, so Hammock has been a big help in their success with coaching the runningbacks. Hammock is making the leap to the NFL to help revive a stagnant running game that plagued the Ravens offense last season, and he has some big shoes to fill. Wilbert Montgomery was made to be the scapegoat in the lackluster running game last season, but it would be ignorant to believe he was the problem in the grand scheme of things. Ray Rice put on too much weight, and the offensive line couldn’t maintain their blocks for the entire season. For the Ravens’ sake, one must hope Hammock helps breath new life into the running game because if he doesn’t, the Ravens offense could struggle once again.

Bobby Engram: Wide Receivers Coach

The Engram hire was a great one for Harbaugh, and it is one that could pay big dividends. Engram knows the ins and outs of being an NFL wide receiver, and if there was one major criticism of former coach Jim Hostler, it is that he couldn’t develop young receivers. Engram will be tasked with developing receivers such as Marlon Brown, Aaron Mellette, and Michael Campanaro. The hire at first glance is a great one, but the results won’t show for another 3-4 years from now, if he is still around.

Brian Pariani: Tight Ends Coach

Pariani is known as a tough tight ends coach, but he has always gotten results, He worked hand-in-hand with Kubiak in Houston, helping bring along solid tight end play from Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham. Wade Harmon was the former coach of this position group, and his firing came as a bit of a surprise, but Pariani will need to provide the same results as he always has, or skepticism will rise from the fans.

Rick Dennison: Quarterbacks Coach

Dennison is known as an offensive line coach, so it is expected that this title is just to get him on the staff. Dennison will work with Flacco along the way, but he will also help Juan Castillo with the offensive line. Dennison is an all-around coach that knows the game of football, so if he can build a good rapport with Flacco, he should help provide big results for the offense.

Juan Castillo: Offensive Line Coach

The Ravens want to run a zone-scheme on offense, and it didn’t work last season. However, the offense didn’t have the necessary tools along the line to run it effectively, and that could have contributed to the poor results. With all of that being said, if the scheme doesn’t work early on, the fans will be calling for Castillo to be fired once again, to the surprise of no one. Castillo finally has the play-caller to benefit his scheme, and the results should show.

Players that could benefit most from the changes:

Joe Flacco

Bernard Pierce

Torrey Smith

Dennis Pitta

Eugene Monroe

Kelechi Osemele

Marshal Yanda

Marlon Brown

This coaching staff is the best the Ravens have had on this side of the ball in their franchise history, so the expectations will be high. The early portion of the season shouldn’t have as high of expectations with a learning curve to be expected, but the team should hit its stride at some portion of the season, most likely after the first quarter of the schedule.

Top 20 Undrafted Free Agents

Chris Schisler Rankings

1.) Victor Hampton, CB SCAR- I thought a 3rd to 5th round grade was appropriate for Hampton. Amazingly he went undrafted.

2.) Christian Jones, LB FSU- Jones is not an elite athlete however he is a strong tackler and instinctive linebacker. Anywhere from rounds 3-5 was my evaluated landing spot; somehow he slipped through 32 teams for 7 rounds.

3.) Shayne Skov, LB Stanford- Skov is a slightly better athlete than Jones but less instinctive.

4.) Jackson Jeffcoat, DE/OLB Texas-Jeffcoat getting drafted was not a given. He projects as a pass rush specialist and a special teams stud. There is plenty of room for growth in his game.

5.) Marcus Roberson, CB Florida- Roberson could be a solid corner. He is victim of a very deep draft at his position.

6.) Dion Bailey, FS USC- Bailey takes good angles and understands his responsibilities. Chance to be a decent player.

7.) Louchiez Purifoy CB Florida- Looks like he could be a gunner on special teams. Maybe working his way up to a starter on defense eventually.

8.) Anthony Johnson, DT LSU- I had him ranked higher than his drafted teammate Ego Ferguson. This is a must get UDFA.

9.) Brandon Coleman, WR Rutgers- can’t teach a guy to have 6’6″ size. Has work to do but his physical toolset is there.

10.) Antonio Richardson, OT Tennessee: There are plenty of errors in the game of Antonio Richardson, but he has the physical skill set.

11.) Tyler Larsen, C Utah State: Larsen is a big bodied guy, gotta think he can do it in the next level.

12.) Mike Davis, WR Texas- It is shocking that no Texas Longhorn was selected at all including their productive receiver, Mike Davis.

13.) James Hurst, OT UNC- Hurst is a bit undersized at 295 pounds & is not a great athlete.

14.) James Stone C, Tennessee- This is an intriguing prospect. We’ll see if he gets a shot.

15.) Chandler Jones, WR San Jose St- I was very impressed with Chandler Jones in the East-West Shrine Game.

16.) Deandre Coleman, DT Cal- Coleman gets a good jump off the line, despite not being all that explosive.

17.) Adrian Hubbard, OLB Alabama- he is a great run defender, but has a limited skill set.

18.) Howard Jones, OLB Shepherd- Shepherd is a good program, it is where we had team camp when I played in high school. Jones is worth taking a look at.

19.) Chris Davis, CB Auburn- He is a better corner than given credit for; and if you want to know about his kick returning skills just ask Alabama fans.

20.) Max Bullough, LB MSU- A bit slow, and a bit out of shape, Bullough could be good if someone lights the fire.

Broncos Go All In For 2014

By Chris Schisler

The reigning AFC Champions are far from satisfied; the Broncos want the Lombardi trophy that keeps eluding them. John Elway and company will stop at nothing to get the Super Bowl won. There is just one problem with this picture. The Broncos are mortgaging their future with irresponsible spending this free agency period.

Elway convinced Peyton Manning to become a Bronco with a Super Bowl championship as the only goal. In Manning’s two seasons wearing blue and orange the Broncos have suffered heartbreaking defeats in the postseason. The Broncos fell to the eventual world champion Baltimore Ravens in 2012, and got beaten 43-8 in the Super Bowl this past season.

Clearly Manning and the offense is not to blame for their Super devastation (at least this is what Elway’s moves indicate as the organization’s belief). This would be treason at the highest possible level. No it was the defenses fault (that’s why Denver only scored 8 points). The Broncos just threw a heaping pile of cash at their defense.

First they give Aqib Talib a 6 year deal with $26 million of the contracts $57 million guaranteed. Then they give Demarcus Ware a 3 year $30 million deal. Aqib Talib is a good corner but is not nearly as dominant as his contract suggests. DeMarcus Ware is an aging pass rusher. The moral of the story is that Denver rashly overpaid two players that may only help them in the short term, with contracts that will haunt them in the near future.

This is not decision making that indicates a powerful front office. This is decision making indicates a doubtful front office. Clearly the Broncos have put every egg they’ll ever have into the Peyton Manning will win us a Super Bowl basket. The franchise understands that Peyton’s career is nearing it’s end and they don’t think they can win without him. The obvious choice is to win now. Tomorrow is irrelevant if today is all that matters to you, I guess.

The Broncos are in a weak division. The Chiefs are a fake good team as Alex Smith will never scare Peyton Manning. The Chargers are the real threat to Denver though it took a miracle for them to make it to the postseason. Even after losing Eric Decker to the Jets, Denver did not need these signings to be a playoff team. They probably don’t need these signings to be the number 1 seed for a 3rd straight year. Last time I checked the Broncos were far away from being a bad team. While they certainly have issues to overcome the Broncos did not need to make a reckless splash in the free agent market.

There are no assumptions in the NFL, but come on, we know Denver would be a good team any way. The Broncos are all but assured a playoff spot (with a healthy) Peyton Manning under center. As Peyton’s little brother has proven twice you just need to get into the playoffs and anything can happen.

So go ahead Broncos fan. Shout and dance in the street. Rub off your Super Bowl embarrassment- you just won free agency. But in a few years when Manning calls it quits and you become an after thought in the AFC ask yourself one question: Was it worth it?