Tuesday, February 13, 2007

NFL Offseason Report

The NFL Offseason has begun, and so far, has been filled with its share of activity.

The main story of the first week has been the firing of Coach Marty Schottenheimer from the San Deigo Chargers on Tuesday 13 February. This comes after an NFL best 14-2 record, yet a second-round dismissal from the playoffs, courtesy of the New England Patriots. Schottenheimer ends his 5-year tenure at San Deigo without a postseason win, adding to his infamous resume of being unsucessful in the playoffs. Schottenheimer will still receive $4 million from San Diego to not coach in 2007, which is probably likely, after Schottenheimer stating on ESPNews on Tuesday he is not sure if coaching still lies in his future.
Early speculation says that former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells is a possibility for the void, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, but John Clayton suggests that neither Parcells or USC coach Pete Caroll would be candidates because of GM A.J. Smith's unwillingness to hand over full control of the team.

Key coaching moves this off-season including the Dallas Cowboys' hiring of Wade Phillips, who was assistant to Marty Schottenheimer in San Diego, and Pittsburgh Steelers' decision on head coach Mike Tomlin, after each team lost Hall-of-Fame bound head coaches Bill Parcells and Bill Cowher. Lane Kiffin, Cam Cameron, Ken Whisenhunt, and Bobby Petrino will all make their head coaching debut in the NFL in 2007 after being hired to the Raiders, Dolphins, Cardinals, and Falcons respectively. Petrino and Cameron both have college head coaching experience, Petrino at Louisville and Cameron at Indiana. Kiffin, at age 31, became the youngest coach in the NFL since the NFL-AFL merger.

After the Colts won Super Bowl XLI, many doubters were finally assured that Peyton Manning had the "monkey" off his back. However, the question that also comes up is can Peyton do it again, much more, can the Colts do it again? The Colts have $200,000 (before Manning's restructured contract lends $8 million to the cap) in salary cap room, which doesn't leave a lot considering the number of valuable unrestricted free agents the Colts are dealing with this off-season, including Ricky Proehl, Terrance Wilkins, Rob Morris, Nick Harper, Dominic Rhodes, Rocky Boiman, James Mungro, Dan Klecko, Cato June, and Dwight Freeney. Rhodes, seeming to be the biggest loss if he decides to leave the Colts for a starring role elsewhere, has had mixed responses on whether he would rather stay and back up Joseph Addai, or leave for a starting position. The loss of June could also account for some valuable line backers the Colts have lost in previous years. Freeney, who received the franchise tag last year, will more than likely get tagged again. The Colts need to focus on how to keep Rhodes around, in case Addai is injured, he is a veteran who has proved he can carry the load of hand offs and be a starter, which is the main reason in a possible decision to leave.

With the combine just around the corner, there is sure to be more and more talk about who will get the number one draft pick. With Oakland holding the first pick, it would not be a surprise for them to draft Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson, since the Randy Moss situation might end up in a trade. If Oakland can get Aaron Brooks in a proven system, having Johnson would turn this team completely around, considering the monster of a defense that is already in place. If Johnson is the first pick, there would be no doubt that LSU QB JaMarcus Russell would go to Detroit, considering they haven't exactly had firm lock the starter. With the receivers in place, Detroit could turn into a good offensive team with Russell behind center. However, if Oakland decides to pass on Johnson and take Russell first pick, that would shape up my top five board:
1. Oakland - JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
2. Detroit - Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin
3. Tampa Bay - Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech
4. Cleveland - Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
5. Arizona - Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas

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