February 2013


BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- A witness identified the 22-year-old nephew of New York Giants owner John Mara as the person he saw hit a man in the head with a bottle during a New Year's Eve party, an arrest affidavit says.
After taking a few days to focus on the 2013 NFL scouting combine, "Shutdown Corner" resumes our TPS reports (Office Space), where we take a look back at each team's 2012 season and a look at what lies ahead for the 2013 offseason. We continue in the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks. 2012 record : 11-5 What went wrong : An 11-5 season and coming within 30 seconds of appearing in the NFC championship game results in a fairly short list of complaints entering the 2013 offseason. If there was a gripe, it was that it took a few games before the Seahawks unleashed third-round quarterback Russell Wilson. The Seahawks had an ineffective passing game for the first five weeks of the regular season and Wilson had more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five). Second-year receiver Doug Baldwin, Seattle's top receiver in 2011, had just 29 receptions for 366 yards on the season. Tight end Zach Miller, who signed a five-year, $34 million contract after the 2011 lockout, caught just 38 passes for 396 yards and three touchdowns. Another issue was a defense that built to stop the run allowed 122.9 yards per game on the ground over the final 10 regular season games before allowing 271 rushing yards in two postseason games. Defensive end Chris Clemons, who had 11.5 sacks in the regular season, suffered a torn ACL in the playoff win over the Washington Redskins and may not be 100 percent by the time the 2013 season begins. What went right : According to Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics, the Seahawks finished first in team efficiency , placing among the top four teams in offense, defense and special teams DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). The biggest story out of Seattle was the rapid development of Wilson, the No. 75 overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft who won the starting job in training camp and became a Rookie of the Year candidate. Wilson passed for over 3,100 with 26 touchdowns, tying Peyton Manning's single-season record for a rookie. Wilson also added 489 yards and four touchdowns, including three rushing touchdowns in the first half of a 50-17 win over the Buffalo Bills. Marshawn Lynch earned Pro Bowl honors by running for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns, barreling over defenders like a player seeking a $30 million extension and not a player who had signed one in the offseason. The Seahawks ranked third in Football Outsiders' "Adjusted Line Yards" and placed two players – left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger – in the Pro Bowl. The Seahawks also got a solid season out of Golden Tate, who had 45 receptions, 688 yards and tied for the team lead with seven touchdowns. The Seahawks' were fourth in yards allowed per game and were the league's No. 1-ranked scoring defense. In a sign that "The Kid's Are Alright", Seattle's leader in tackles was second-round middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who had 139, including a team-high nine for a loss, an impressive total for a player who logged 84.83 percent of the defensive snaps. 2012 first-round pick Bruce Irvin was second on the team with eight sacks in limited (43.41 percent playing-time) action. Second-year cornerback Richard Sherman had eight interceptions and the All-Pro emerged as one of the top corners in the league. Coaching/front office changes : The Seahawks lost defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who is now the head coach the Jacksonville Jaguars. Replacing Bradley is Dan Quinn, the Seahawks' former defensive line coach who spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida. The Seahawks' front office saw the departure of vice president of football administration John Idzik, who was named the New York Jets' general manager. Estimated 2013 cap space : $16.371 million
After taking a few days to focus on the 2013 NFL scouting combine, "Shutdown Corner" resumes our TPS reports (Office Space), where we take a look back at each team's 2012 season and a look at what lies ahead for the 2013 offseason. We continue in the NFC West with the St. Louis Rams. 2012 record : 7-8-1 What went wrong : When the Rams beat the Cardinals 17-3 to improve to 3-2 on Oct. 4, it marked the first time the club was over .500 since 2006. Unfortunately, the Rams would not win another game until their rematch with the Cardinals on Nov. 25, a stretch of four losses and a tie. The Rams improved on both sides of the ball in 2012, but one area that needs to be addressed this offseason is their return game. Rams kick returners averaged 21 yards per return, which was tied for 26th in the NFL. On punt returns, the Rams averaged 6.6 yards per return, which ranked 31st in the league. What went right : For a sub .500 team, quite a lot went right for the Rams in the first season of the Les Snead/Jeff Fisher era. The Rams' defense ranked 14th in total yards allowed per game and were tied for 14th in points allowed per game. According to Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics, the Rams were seventh in defensive DVOA, finishing in the Top 10 against the run and pass last season. Though no Rams players would appear in the 2013 Pro Bowl, the defense received solid seasons from defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, who combined for 22 of the Rams' league-leading 52 sacks in 2012. Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis led the Rams with 142 tackles, adding two interceptions, while second-round cornerback Janoris Jenkins led the Rams with four interceptions. Another key contributor on defense was outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who had 113 tackles, 4.5 sacks and led the squad with 16 tackles for a loss. With a third coordinator (Brian Schottenheimer) in as many seasons, the offense remains a work in progress, improving from 32nd in FO's offensive DVOA in 2011 to 21st in 2012 , but still finishing towards the bottom of the league (25th) in points scored. The Rams also struck gold with sixth-round kicker Greg "The Leg" (or Legatron, depending on your inclination towards sci-fi cartoons) Zuerlein, who was 23-of-31 on field goal attempts on the season with six of his eight misses coming from beyond 50 yards. Zuerlein nailed a 60-yard field goal in a Week 4 win over the Seattle Seahawks and became the first kicker in NFL history to hit a 60-yard field goal and a 50-yard field goal in the same game. Rookie punter Johnny Hekker also had a solid season, finishing with a net average of 39.9 yards and completing all three of his passing attempts on fakes for 42 yards and a two-yard touchdown in the Week 4 win over Seattle. Coaching/front office changes : The Rams went without a defensive coordinator after Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely over his role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty program. Fisher says he made the decision late in the season to move on from Williams, but took his time this offseason before naming a full-time replacement. The Rams named Detroit Lions secondary coach Tim Walton their defensive coordinator in mid-February. Estimated 2013 cap space : $750,000 over their estimated 2013 adjusted cap number.
In addition to QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore must contemplate the future of some notable defenders.
Alex Smith quietly stayed behind the scenes after losing his job and watched from the sideline as San Francisco returned to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years. Yet the No. 1 overall draft pick from 2005 did make one thing known: The veteran quarterback still considers himself a starter.
One NFL quarterback reportedly is headed for a new home while another is taking a financial hit to help his team's salary cap.
After taking a few days to focus on the 2013 NFL scouting combine, "Shutdown Corner" resumes our look back at each team's 2012 season and a look at what lies ahead for the 2013 offseason. We continue in the NFC West with the Arizona Cardinals. 2012 record : 5-11 What went wrong : October. November. Come to think of it, December wasn't too great, either. Following a 4-0 start to the 2012 season, the Cardinals' season took a nosedive as the team lost 11 of the final 12 games to end the season and led to major changes in the front office and sidelines this offseason. The Cardinals' main problems were an offense that averaged 263.1 yards and 15.6 points per game. Arizona ranked 32nd in a 32-team league in total offense, rushing yards per game, rushing yards per play, passing yards per play, sacks allowed per pass attempt and third-down percentage. The Cardinals were 31st in the red zone and scoring offense. While it's true that the Cardinals played in a division with outstanding defenses (San Francisco, Seattle, and St. Louis), when you adjust for opponent, which Football Outsiders does, the Cardinals still finished 32nd in offensive DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). Arizona's quarterback position was a revolving door in 2012. Kevin Kolb opened the season as the starter, completing 59.6 percent of 183 pass attempts for 1,169 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions in six games before his season was ended by a rib injury. 2011 fifth-round pick John Skelton took over for Kolb, but would struggle, tossing nine interceptions to go with a pair of touchdown passes. The Cardinals eventually turned to 2012 sixth-round pick Ryan Lindley, who was intercepted seven times on just 171 pass attempts and is still seeking his first touchdown pass. Even Brian Hoyer, who joined the team off the waiver wire in Week 15, made a start for the Cardinals. [ NFL mock draft: Picks 1-16 | Picks 17-32 ] Overall, Cardinals quarterbacks completed 337-of-608 pass attempts for 3,383 yards with 11 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and were sacked a league-high 58 times, losing six fumbles in the process. The 58 sacks allowed show that the offensive line remains an issue for the Cardinals, who by the end of the 2012 season were starting seventh-round project Nate Potter at left tackle as Levi Brown missed the entire season with a triceps injury. What went right : The Cardinals' offense may have been a dumpster fire, but their defense was solid in 2012. Ray Horton's charges ranked 12th in total defense, was second in the league on third down, first in interception rate, third in the red zone and was fifth in passing yards allowed per game. According to Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, the Cardinals defense was sixth in defensive DVOA, including second in pass defense DVOA. One of the defensive standouts was cornerback Patrick Peterson, who made the Pro Bowl in 2011 for his return skills, but returned in 2012 due to his coverage prowess, finishing fourth in the NFL with seven interceptions on the season. Peterson would be joined in Hawaii by inside linebacker Daryl Washington, who led the Cardinals with 134 tackles, including a team-high nine sacks and 15 tackles for a loss to go along with an interception. Defensive end Calais Campbell had another strong season, posting 6.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, 12 hits on opposing quarterbacks, six passes defensed and blocked a field goal in a 20-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks in the season-opener. Coaching/front office changes : The Cardinals made sweeping changes this offseason, firing GM Rod Graves and head coach Ken Whisenhunt on the day after the regular season finale. To replace Graves, the Cardinals promoted from within by elevating Steve Keim to the GM spot. The Cardinals' head coaching search ended with the hiring of Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who has hired Harold Goodwin (offensive), Todd Bowles (defensive) and Amos Jones (special teams) as his coordinator. Former defensive coordinator and head coach candidate Ray Horton left the team to take the same position with the Cleveland Browns. Estimated 2013 cap space : $2.7 million over their estimated 2013 adjusted cap number.
COMMENTARY | So that's why the New York Giants have been clearing salary cap space this offseason. On Wednesday, February 27, Big Blue reportedly re-signed left tackle Will Beatty to a five-year, $37.5 million contract. Beatty was a pending unrestricted free agent.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New York Giants have agreed to a five-year deal with left tackle Will Beatty, who could have become a free agent.
The NFL scouting combine is valuable for many reasons. One of the primary reasons for the whole event is that it allows coaches, general managers. and team owners to get a sense of priorities and targets in a huge pool of talent. That applies to the faux-GMs who do mock drafts, including your humble draft correspondent. With pro days and player interviews coming up, there's still a lot to get through, and that's why we'll have multiple mocks over the next two months. But after the combine is when things start to shake out. Linemen dominate the second half of the first round of our mock, but this is where as many as three safeties could be selected, as well. Picks 17-32 below; you can see picks 1-16 here . 17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri. The Steelers have struggled to strengthen their defensive line in the past few drafts, and Richardson could be an ideal five-tech tackle in Dick LeBeau's system. At 6-foot-3 and 294 pounds, Richardson has the strength to plug up blocks, and the athleticism to drop into coverage. 18. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. Well, we know that Jerry Jones won't be "wasting" any high picks on Dallas' offensive line. So, they might as well get Jason Witten's eventual replacement now, and allow Tony Romo one more hot route per play while he's getting his block knocked off. Eifert is a good blocker, but he's best known for his ability to line up along the formation, and Jason Garrett was a bit more adventurous with his receiver formations at times in 2012. We'll just have to wait and see how many of the plays he'll be calling. 19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. I'm not quite as sold on Werner as some -- I think he's a good run-stopper, a very aware defender in space, and a decent pass-rusher. But I don't see him beating blocks a lot, and he may be a low-ceiling player. The Giants would take that and run with it, as their front seven is in transition. Last season, the G-Men ranked 30th in Football Outsiders' Adjusted Line Yards metric, and 22nd in Adjusted Sack Rate. He may not be a transcendent player, but Werner could definitely help in both categories. [ Mock Draft, picks 1-16: Linemen rule the roost ] 20. Chicago Bears: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame. Here's my reasoning for this one: All the best offensive linemen are gone in this mock, and Alabama's D.J. Fluker might not fit head coach Marc Trestman's more expansive offense. New Bears GM Phil Emery is an outside-the-box thinker, and Te'o's productivity from a statistical perspective will appeal to him. In addition, Te'o will benefit greatly from a locker room that includes legendary linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. He'll be able to mature in a defense perfectly suited to his strengths (decent speed in space) while the Bears' front is optimized to minimize his weakness (thumping heads at the line). It will be tough for Te'o as this pick would be a clear indicator that the Urlacher era is close to an end, but I could see Emery taking a shot on the idea that Te'o is the next James Laurinaitis in the right environment. 21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, S, Florida. The Bengals' safeties were abused in 2012, and changes clearly need to made in their deep defensive backfield. As he proved at the combine, Elam has the speed and transition ability to transform this weakness to a strength, especially under the direction of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. 22. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas. The Rams are an up-and-coming team, but they'll need to reinforce their secondary for that next-level championship push. Jeff Fisher loves aggressive safeties with attitude who don't fear contact in the front half, and Vaccaro plays the front half and back half with equal aplomb. 23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal. Allen missed the combine because his knee injury from last year flared up recently. The plan is for him to have an individual pro day in early April, and if that goes well, it would be easy to see the Vikings pulling the trigger on another target for Christian Ponder, especially if Percy Harvin is on the way out. Allen is an ideal receiver for a quarterback who doesn't have a big arm (as Ponder does not) -- he's very dynamic after the catch, has better speed than some think, and plays with a lot of toughness. 24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M. Opinions vary greatly on Moore, especially after his sub-par combine workouts. Some will tell you that he's the next Aldon Smith, and others will swear that he's an oversold outside rusher with limited upside. Personally, I think Moore is a talented kid who needs work on angles, leverage, and hand and foot movement, and that Chuck Pagano is the ideal person to start Moore on his way -- especially since Pagano will want to play more snaps in a "traditional" 3-4 defense this season. Ideally, Moore will be able to kick it outside in base packages, and move inside on passing downs. 25. Seattle Seahawks: Datone Jones, DL, UCLA.

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