It might be a case of illegal clipping.
MMQB preamble, Homage to the Opening of High School Football Season:
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- To Bears coach Lovie Smith, the Olympic competition he watched every night after training camp meetings in his dorm room at Olivet Nazarene University was a vital football lesson for everyone in the game.
With the draft and free agency having reordered depth charts around the league, it's time to take stock of the positional battles that will be worth watching unfold once training camps open. Here are 10 intriguing depth-chart competitions that warrant our attention this summer:
Michael Brockers is hot, Ryan Tannehill may not be. The old draft trade chart is out the window, the Jags have an itchy trigger finger, Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd have the attention of the Rams, Seattle may not want to move as much as the current rumor suggests and, speaking of rumors, I'd advise you not to believe many of them about moving up.
With the glow (and the now annual blame-game fallout) of the Super Bowl dying down, we turn our attention to the long NFL offseason, which won't end until teams start reporting for training camp in late July. Here are the 10 questions that most intrigue me as the league transitions into player acquisition and draft evaluation mode....
The NFL coaching saga known as the "Courtship of Jeff Fisher'' continued without resolution Wednesday as both the St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins awaited word of a decision from him regarding their head coaching offers.
The arithmetic is unrelenting. Since 1989, NFL teams have hired on average 6.5 new head coaches a year, and there have been a staggering 82 coaching changes made in the league from 2000-on. Only one team, the Philadelphia Eagles, has completely sat out the frenzy in that department, having brought a young and promising Andy Reid to town in 1999.
1. The Saints will beat the Ravens in the Super Bowl. May as well start off with a prediction bound to lead to angry responses, right? This one's not so much an indictment of the Packers, who might be on the verge of becoming a dynasty again, as it is an admission that the Saints are really, really good. Almost all of that confidence comes from Drew Brees' continued spectacular performance. The Saints took Green Bay to the wire in Week 1. On the other side of things, even with the AFC road likely going through New England, the Steelers and Ravens have the best mixes of offense and defense. Baltimore has had Pittsburgh's number this season and looks poised to take the AFC North crown. That means the Steelers might have to win in Batimore to get to the Super Bowl, which the Ravens won't allow.
What I recall most is that Christmas dinner was on the table and ready to be served, but the Dolphins were driving late in regulation, a fact my mother seemed completely oblivious to. It was an impossible choice to make, not that I truly had one. The holiday dinner would go on as planned for our family of six, even while I did everything I could to keep an eye on the best football game I had ever seen.
Don't weep for Jack Del Rio. The just-fired Jaguars head coach was playing with house money. Or at least Wayne Weaver's.
I love Thanksgiving. Always have. It's the food mostly, and seeing family I haven't seen in a while. Football's always been a part of it, but never the central part. This year might be different. This week, I'm going to politely have to say, "Uh, I need to watch 10 hours of football on Thanksgiving.''
CHICAGO -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we digest a Week 11 that looked dreadful on paper but wound up playing out as one of the most entertaining Sundays of the NFL season....
In a league where the quarterback news cycle never really ends, we've got plenty to chew on again this week: Matt Schaub out for the time being and maybe longer in Houston, with Matt Leinart getting an unexpected chance to restart his career for the first-place Texans; Tyler Palko taking over for the injured Matt Cassel in Kansas City; John Skelton's continued emergence in Arizona, and his outperforming of injured starter Kevin Kolb thus far.
Like it or not, and many find it an awkward situation at best, the race in reverse that is the Andrew Luck sweepstakes will be one of the dominant and most frequently updated storylines in the second half of the NFL's 2011 season.
PITTSBURGH -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight in a Week 8 that started out looking like Upset Sunday, but then settled down considerably as the games wore on....
The prediction business is a foolish and risky game in the ever-changing NFL, but hey, somebody's got to do it. So here goes, 20 bold predictions as we stare down the start of the 2011 regular season:
Not that it's a quarterback-driven league or anything, but here's a quick recap of what's transpired in the past few days when it comes to the NFL's passing set:
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on NFL training camps across the country. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
NEW YORK -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we wrap up day three of the NFL draft and the entire seven-round pick-fest at Radio City Music Hall ...
The wife of Miami Dolphins star receiver Brandon Marshall has been charged with stabbing him in the abdomen with a kitchen knife during a domestic violence incident, according to a report from the Broward County, Florida, sheriff's office.
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we take in a 16-game NFL Sunday in which 16 teams entered game No. 16 with their Super Bowl chances still alive ...
Quick-hitting insight from today's 1 p.m. games ...
PITTSBURGH -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we review a captivating Week 15 of playoff-implication football ...
Here are five things we learned from the Chicago Bears' 16-0 win over the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on Thursday night.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Musings, observations and the occasional Week 7 insight as we await the second annual Brett Favre Lambeau Reunion Weekend, which all but slipped off the radar screen in the NFL's recent news-intensive atmosphere ...
As the guy responsible for SI.com's NFL Power Rankings, someone asked me Monday afternoon what constitutes the NFL's elite class this season. As I gave it some thought, I realized Week 4 was when it started to dawn on us that we don't really have one of those yet in the 2010 NFL season.
On a night when Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker were little more than footnotes, the Patriots still dominated the Dolphins 41-14 in Miami Gardens. If that doesn't make the rest of the league sit up and take notice, it should.
SI.com is previewing all eight NFL divisions, beginning today with the AFC East and NFC East. The AFC South and NFC South follow Wednesday, AFC North and NFC North on Thursday and the AFC West and NFC West on Friday.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Ben Reiter had to say about the Dolphins camp in Davie, Fla. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
Do I believe it? Too early to tell -- with an asterisk. A big one.
With Lebron James joining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, the A-listers will overrun the arena
Can NFL teams legally ask prospective draft picks any question, no matter how offensive, during pre-draft interviews?
While most of the attention this week has naturally focused on what Jeff Ireland said to Dez Bryant in the course of their now controversial pre-draft interview, the real question is: Why would the Miami Dolphins general manager even consider such a question to the highly-regarded but enigmatic Oklahoma State receiver?
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we stare down the NFL's first three-day draft extravaganza, the start of which is thankfully now less than a week away...
Almost one week of the NFL's free agency period is in the books, and that means some of what we thought we knew about the first round of this year's draft is already painfully out of date. Here's a look at 12 teams that have had their draft wish list impacted in some way by key gains or losses in free agency, or in the case of the Jets, a key trade just before it began: (Editor's Note: A full mock draft is scheduled for Tues., March 16).
No sooner had the last flake of confetti fallen in Miami that next year's Super Bowl odds were posted. Not surprisingly, the Colts are the favorite to do what they couldn't achieve this season. Everybody of consequence returns for the Colts next season. Linebacker Gary Brackett is scheduled to be a unrestricted free agent and Antoine Bethea is a restricted free agent, but both are expected to return to Indianapolis. With that in mind, here's a look at the biggest questions that need answered this offseason among the AFC teams.
Yes, the Indianapolis Colts thing has already been wrestled to the ground and kicked a few times by now, but I want to point out some interesting work by brilliant blog reader Jonathan Joyce on the subject that might startle you. Well, "startle" might be an overstatement. I don't suppose I have been startled by football stats in a while.* The point is, it's good stuff.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight from a compelling Week 14 that featured numerous close calls, but no real signature upsets -- at least after the lowly Browns knocked the humbled Steelers from the throne Thursday night in Cleveland ...
This was supposed to be the season the Wildcat evolved to the next level and swept through the NFL. A year after the Miami Dolphins used it to surprising success, coaches from coast to coast were expected to implement it as a game-changer, to keep defenses off balance and grab big chunks of yardage.
The NFL's 256-game regular season is half gone (actually 50.4 percent, but who's counting?) You know the drill. It's midseason review time...
Ricky Williams visited a video store recently and gave Madden '10 the ultimate test ride: He took the control and ran the Wildcat in the Dolphins' offense. It was like Woody Allen stepping inside the screen.
Whether they'll ever admit it or not, a fast start in the NFL gets everyone -- fans, media, players, and even play-'em-one-at-a-time coaches -- dreaming about a magical run through January and the road trip to the game that's so big they use Roman numerals to identify it. Which way to the press conferences?
Maybe Rex Ryan was more accurate than he knows when he took to the postgame podium Monday night in Miami and fumed that his defense made "that quarterback look like Dan Marino.''
MIAMI -- The Dolphins and Jets have staged some games that grab you by the throat. The Jets once scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and won in overtime. The Dolphins' Dan Marino once faked spiking the ball and threw a winning touchdown.
Things we know (or at least think we do) one month into the NFL's regular season....
My weekly look at key matchups and storylines to watch in one game at each time slot. (All times Eastern)
I awoke Monday morning in Dallas, where the sky was obviously falling after the 1-1 Cowboys humiliated themselves with the whole world watching by losing at the last second to the Giants in their new billion-dollar ballpark. Oh, and while we're at it, what's the story with Tony Romo (again)?
Except for one play, I absolutely loved Miami's approach to the Monday night game against the Colts. Reminded me of the way the man who put all the Dolphins' pieces in place, VP of football operations Bill Parcells, positioned the Giants to play the Super Bowl against Buffalo 19 seasons ago.
"It will be the sexiest place in town!" the singer tells PEOPLE
What I learned while watching the Colts beat the Dolphins 27-23 on Monday night in Miami....
They are the first female African-Americans to hold an ownership stake in a NFL franchise
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Andrew Lawrence had to say about the Dolphins' camp in Davie, Fla. For an archive of all the camp postcards, click here.
The singer and Jennifer Lopez are also currently house-hunting in Miami
Since the NFL's realignment to eight four-team divisions in 2002, the league's 12-team postseason has averaged slightly more than six new entries per year (6.4 to be exact, see table). That means we have come to count on at least half the NFL playoff field rolling over most every season, making for the annual guessing game of who's in and who's out when it comes to next January's Super Bowl tournament.
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we peruse the NFL's just-released 256-game regular-season schedule....
The 2009 NFL season officially begins Friday at 12:01 a.m. when free agency opens. What follows is a rundown of the game plans for every AFC team heading into free agency and the draft. For NFC teams, click here.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we wrap up the first three games of what is somewhat inaccurately called the NFL's wild-card weekend from a raucous and purple-bedecked Metrodome ...
1. Brett Favre had the look of a man who had played his last game after the Jets' 24-17 loss to the Dolphins. Favre repeatedly referred to his age, 39, his shoulder pain and his struggles down the stretch. "Am I old and washed up? Maybe so," Favre said. "If that's the case, maybe it's time to do something else."
Breaking down Sunday's Miami Dolphins at New York Jets game (1 p.m., Eastern, CBS) ...
NEW YORK -- First, perspective. One of the 10 best football players in history died the other day in Texas. It's important you know about him. There will be no forgetting Slingin' Sammy Baugh in this column. No sir. I'll write about him a bit later, but here's a tease: He had the best year a football player ever had, and there can be no possible argument on that from any Jim Brown fan, any Walter Payton fan, any Unitas, Montana, Marino, Brady, Butkus or Lawrence Taylor fan. Sixty-five years ago, in 1943, on a Redskins team with shrunken 28-man rosters because of the great war, Baugh led the NFL in:
Deep down, I never thought Miami would lose every game last year. I have waited all my life for an 0-16 football team -- it's a hobby of mine -- and it just seemed clear the Dolphins just were not it. Oh sure, they had it going for a little while there -- 13 straight losses to start the year -- but I don't know, it always seemed like there was something a little too sturdy about those Dolphins.
CHICAGO -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we take in the NFL's latest sequel: "The Return of Rex,'' a Windy City-based movie that makes us all feel as if we've seen it before and know how it ends...
On the eve of the Miami Dolphins season opener against the Jets, new Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was standing at the foot of a staircase in the team lobby, explaining how the past is not always prologue.
Call it the Madden effect -- as in the videogame in which players inevitably go for it on fourth-and-whatever. NFL coaches this season are taking a cue, going for it on fourth down within their opponents' three-yard-line more than usual. Through nine weeks (130 games), teams had gone for the touchdown in that situation 23 times. That projects to 45 such tries for the season, nine more than in any year this decade.
Bill Parcells has overseen more rehabs than the Betty Ford Clinic. But his effort with the 2008 Dolphins may prove his best work yet.
Two months down, two months to go in a NFL regular season that has defied conventional wisdom even more than most. You know the drill. It's midseason review time...
As the Dolphins expand their playbook, it's becoming more apparent their intent is to develop an offense that revolves even more around the versatile talents of Ronnie Brown.
NEW YORK -- A really interesting Sunday. What do you want to hear about first? The origins of the Wildcat play, which has carried the woebegone Dolphins to wins over the two AFC Championship Game teams from last year? The future of Kerry Collins, who, in a month, has gone from a washed-up backup to one of the NFL's 20 most important players? The incredible case of Matty Ice? Plaxico Burress' future with the Giants?
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we witnessed the bruising heavyweight fight that the Titans-Ravens game morphed into on Sunday, before a demoralized M&T Bank Stadium throng ....
Every Monday, SI.com's Michael Lombardi will hand out five letter grades to deserving NFL parties...
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we take in the Keystone State's smash-mouth showdown between the Steelers and Eagles at The Linc ...
Can Chad Pennington lead the Dolphins back to respectability? That's what league observers are asking after watching the former Jets quarterback put together impressive back-to-back performances in the preseason. Pennington, the NFL's career leader in completion percentage (65.6) for quarterbacks with more than 1,500 attempts, has completed 16-of-21 attempts for 149 yards with one touchdown in two starts with the Dolphins and led the team to four scores in seven drives under his guidance.
It's that dangerous time of the summer for NFL starting quarterbacks. With the regular season less than 10 days away, keeping or getting your No. 1 QB healthy becomes every team's most vital objective. All else pales by comparison.
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we arrive at the midway point of the NFL's fake-game schedule, putting us (thankfully) just 17 days away from when they start keeping score for real. ...
SI.com has dispatched 10 writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. For the complete schedule of postcards, click here.
Training camps have begun in earnest around the NFL and virtually every team has some starting jobs that are up for grabs. The left guard spot is available in Green Bay. There is competition for the starting cornerback job opposite Ellis Hobbs in New England. But nothing draws the interest of the fans and media like a quarterback competition. Heck, even the players have a special interest in finding out who will be their leader under center when the season begins in September.
With the start of all the training camps and actual football games coming soon to our televisions, I feel like an excited kid on Christmas morning. Seeing as how it is the 25th of the month, I thought I'd play Santa Claus and give each team a little present before the start of the season.
I am very bullish on this Jason Taylor trade, Miami dealing the unhappy defensive end to Washington for a 2009 second-round pick and a 2010 sixth. It's a better trade for Washington than Miami, but a good recovery-deal for Bill Parcells and the Dolphins.
Like most star high school quarterbacks, Chad Henne turned heads as he walked through the halls. Even the teachers could be caught at times staring at the pride of the Wilson Bulldogs, a perennial Class AAAA Pennsylvania football power an hour west of Philadelphia whose NFL alumni includes Titans quarterback Kerry Collins. The scene is fairly common in high schools across the country, except for one important detail. Henne wasn't in high school. He was in junior high.
The Super Bowl was three months ago, but we're still a long way away from watching another meaningful football game in 2008. That said, with the draft in the books, the personnel acquisition phase of the offseason is nearly complete and teams largely are already what they're going to be this season. Who's on their way up? Who's on their way down? Here's our post-draft assessment of the team in each division poised to make the biggest move this year, in either direction.
Now that we know who's playing where in the wake of the NFL draft, it's time to start focusing on who's playing where, as in the positional battles to watch once training camps open. Here are 12 depth-chart competitions that I'll be keeping an eye on this summer:
Following is my evaluation of the 2008 NFL draft, based on personal preference of various teams. Usually I use letter grades, but that system is now in the garbage because of what Peter King wrote about how nonsensical it is. I hate nonsense.
Here's the problem with mock drafts: I had my top 13 done Sunday morning. I was pretty happy with it. (The way I look at it is after the top 10 or 12, predicting the draft is fruitless anyway, like picking the Trifecta at a dog track, so I concentrate on trying to be remotely competent at the top.) But after talking to two teams' final-deciders in a 20-minute span, I decided that everything I knew was blown to smithereens. If Jake Long signs with Miami, every one of the smart guys on the planet is screwed.
Thanks to its wheeling and dealing ways, Cleveland essentially won't have a draft this year. San Diego's roster is so well stocked it doesn't really need one. But those are the exceptions, not the rule.
Mike Lombardi is a 22-year veteran of NFL personnel departments, spending eight years with the Raiders and nine years with the Browns, in addition to brief stints with the Broncos, Eagles and 49ers. This is his debut column for SI.com.
The AFC West just got a little tougher or a little easier for receivers, depending on who you believe.
Three football-savvy e-mailers check in with the same question this week, and, with so much uncertainty at the top of the draft, it seems like a logical one. I will let the aptly named Dan Wise of Minneapolis be the spokesman.
Before we review the first full week of the NFL's free-agency period, a few quick points: We're going to avoid the hackneyed "winners and losers'' headings because there are no final results posted in March, at the very beginning of personnel acquisition season. We'll give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to teams, based on whether we can make sense of their offseason moves and if they strike us as reasonable and well-thought out decisions, or not. We either get it, or we don't.
According to league sources, the Miami Dolphins have reached an agreement with free-agent quarterback Josh McCown on a multi-year contract.
The Miami Dolphins are very quietly setting themselves up to be an offseason power in the NFL. The waiving of quarterback Trent Green, wide receiver Marty Booker and offensive tackle L.J. Shelton this week added $9.9 million in savings to the 2008 salary-cap total, and helped boost the Dolphins' cap number from $29 million to $40 million.
The Super Bowl fallout has all but settled, and the start of the scouting combine in Indianapolis is less than two weeks away. As the NFL offseason cranks to life, here are a dozen burning questions that serve to start the debate in 2008:
The 1972 Miami Dolphins held a half-hour conference call last week; and for the first 25 minutes, they were about as boring as they could possibly be. They praised Bill Belichick. They hailed Tom Brady. They talked about the benefits of playing one game at a time. As they went on, they started to sound a little like the New England Patriots.
Preparing to play in the Super Bowl sounds stressful enough, but if you ask me, the players on the Giants and Patriots have it easy. Try being a member of, say, the Atlanta Falcons or Miami Dolphins, two teams that didn't come close to making the playoffs and surely will undergo wholesale roster changes as they welcome their third new coach in as many years.
As a sports culture we like to throw our arms around the pursuit of history. Record chases bind us to an athletic heritage that lives on in yellowed paper volumes (along with Google searches and, blessedly, the occasional YouTube video) and connects to greatness in a language that we can understand and speak at picnics. How about those Celtics? And such. Whatever the milestone, we usually want to see it, touch it, remember it, celebrate it.
With a win secured at long last, and the latest savior of their football fortunes now on the scene, the bedraggled Dolphins have finally had a good week. And while their good roll may end Sunday when they face unbeaten New England in Foxboro, there is a way they can generate a big win over the Patriots no matter the outcome of this game.
The only thing that jumps to mind is that I've seen this movie before -- several times actually -- and I know how it ends. Some how, some way, even though the story is painfully familiar, "The Return of Bill Parcells'' always has a surprise plot twist or two before it's over.
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Musings, observations, and the occasional insight as I watch the snowballs fly at freezing Gillette Stadium ...
MORE GAME PLANS: Miami-Buffalo | San Diego-Tennessee | Tampa Bay-Houston | Carolina-Jacksonville | Oakland-Green Bay | Dallas-Detroit | St. Louis-Cincinnati | N.Y. Giants-Philadelphia | Arizona-Seattle | Minnesota-San Francisco | Cleveland-N.Y. Jets | Kansas City-Denver | Indianapolis-Baltimore
It's just after noon here in the East, and everyone's still abuzz around the league and the nation about the Monday night game. I've had five people at Starbucks and my gym this morning asking about last night's controversial 27-24 Pats' win, and I've just talked to people in the know about the officials' key decisions in last night's game. Let's go over the four fourth-quarter calls, one by one.