As the NFL Combine approaches, there are always a few high profile players who opt not to attend or to only partially participate. For some of the elite players, they feel they can only hurt their draft stock by a bad workout so they decide to let their play and pre-draft hype speak for itself self.
Cam Newton, who held a “media only” workout recently, announced this week that he plans to fully participate in the upcoming combine which is a surprise to many. Many experts believed that the “media only” workout may have been Newton’s opportunity to showcase his talents and that he wouldn’t want to participate in the combine to avoid being potentially exposed in some of his weak areas and to avoid the pervasive interviews about the scandal surrounding Newton at Auburn.
For Newton, the workout he had for the media accomplished what it was meant to accomplish. It generated a great deal of hype and those at some prominent media outlets immediately began to gush over his workout and move him up the mock draft boards. So, with the incredible hype already surrounding him, is it a good idea for Newton to fully participate at the combine?
When asked about his decision to participate, Newton said that he wants “to be transparent” through the whole draft process. He also added:
“I don’t have nothing to hide, and I’m a competitor. I’m going to go out here and do what I’ve been working on this whole time and preparing for this moment right now.”
Cam Newton has been working with a QB coach in San Diego and has received mentoring from Hall of Famer Warren Moon. Newton is already projected to be a top 10 pick, but there are many landmines between now and the draft that could significantly hurt his draft position.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea for Newton to participate in the combine despite some of the dangers. Physically, he’s an imposing individual and I believe that once NFL scouts and executives actually see him in action up close and personal they will struggle to hold back their excitement. Newton is already a more polished passer than Vince Young or Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford helped to dispel the myth that QB’s coming from spread offenses cannot adjust to an NFL scheme.
It is troubling, however, the number of fans and analysts that immediately say that Newton will struggle to pick up an offense and may lack the football IQ due to the system in which he played. No such questions surrounded Tebow or Bradford and so they should not be tagged on Newton. Will it be a long process for Newton to learn to play under center and learn an NFL offense? Of course. But not necessarily any more so than with any other QB prospect in the last 10 years, including Bradford.
Physically, I find it nearly impossible for Newton to have a bad outing. He is just that athletic that I am willing to assume that he will perform well as far as the physical tests. My biggest concern is the interview process. If NFL executives get the feeling that Newton isn’t fully invested in the game of football or that he’s not being completely honest and forthright with them regarding the scandal, it could scare a lot of teams away.
To this point, Newton offered the following:
“That’s nothing I’m worried about. I understand that everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, and I just feel like if I have an opportunity to speak with a person or let a person evaluate me as a person, not something that has been stereotyped, I think their perception about me will change, and I’m willing to take that risk.”
Even despite the massive drama surrounding Newton and Auburn this past season he performed brilliantly each and every week. He said all the right things in all the interviews and even though he refused to answer certain questions in a Mark McGuire type way, he handled the scandal relatively well. He continues to say all the right things, but only he knows the truth about the situation with his father.
I believe he will continue to say the same things and I think participating in the combine will significantly improve his already high draft stock. I think it is a great decision on his part to participate especially given that rival draft prospect Blaine Gabbert has already decided not to throw at the combine later this week.
Let’s just see how high this kid goes…
News came out yesterday that Carson Palmer has requested a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals and if the team doesn’t comply he will consider retirement. I don’t believe Palmer would actually retire, but it’s the only leverage he has since he’s under contract. The only way the Bengals would feel compelled to trade him is if there is a threat that he can walk away from the game and they would lose out on any compensation.
Palmer was once considered one of the brightest NFL stars and he was quickly rising to top of the QB heap. Then he was hit by Kimo von Oelhoffen which blew his knee up and he hasn’t been the same ever since. I don’t personally put it all on Carson although he has been putrid because he happens to play for one of the top 5 most dysfunctional NFL franchises in my opinion.
But he has been awful and there is no sign that he will be able to get his career back on track with the Bengals, so I actually think a change of scenery would benefit both Carson and the Bengals. So with that being said, where are the best landing spots for the once great QB?
These are based on my opinion only and I have not heard anything regarding interest for either side. But I do believe that each of these spots would love to get their hands on Palmer and I think Palmer would love to play for each of these teams to a varying degree.
3. Arizona Cardinals:
The Cardinals have perhaps the worst QB situation in the NFL and despite being only a couple years removed from a near Super Bowl victory, their QB play was awful this season that they were one of the worst teams in the league. The offense, with even a competent QB, could be devastating with weapons like Larry Fitzgerald (who, oh by the way is about to be a free agent and the Cardinals need to make a move in order to keep him) and others.
The Cardinals, with even marginal QB play could have easily won the awful NFC West after we watched the Seahawks win the division with a 7-9 record. Carson Palmer may never again be an elite NFL QB, but what better opportunity for him than with one of the top 3 WR’s in the NFL, in a weak division, and with an offensive minded coach? I truly believe Palmer could thrive in Arizona with the offensive weapons that are in place.
2. Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings put their entire hopes for success on Brett Favre for the last two seasons and after failing miserably, it ultimately cost Brad Childress his job. They were one awful Brett Favre pass away from the Super Bowl last season and the team is stacked on both sides of the ball. Childress unthinkably went into the season with absolutely no contingency plan should Favre get hurt or fail and it ultimately ruined the Vikings hopes of even competing for a division title, let alone making a Super Bowl run.
This team is absolutely stacked on offense with Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Visanthe Shiancoe. The defense, barring all the Favre turnovers, was still a top defense in the league. With reasonable QB play, this team could make a serious run for the Super Bowl. Again, it’s a great situation for Palmer as well to revamp his career with all those weapons and with such a strong supporting cast around him.
1. San Francisco 49ers:
Carson is obviously a west coast guy, growing up in California and playing at USC. Similarly to the Cardinals, the 49ers have a very good team and with marginal QB play they could have seriously contended for the division and beyond. The 49ers don’t have quite the offensive weaponry that Arizona does, but they’re not far behind them. Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and others isn’t a bad supporting cast to start off with. If they’re able to add another weapon through the draft or free agency, they could get dangerous in a hurry.
Not to mention, the acquisition of Carson Palmer would remove the immediate need to draft a QB in the first round which would open up that pick to fill other needs whether it be another running back (which I think they desperately need), a WR, or a defensive player. Frank Gore can be great, but he is often injured. They can likely get a quality back later in the draft though to add depth and share the load.
The 49ers have a dynamic defense lead by the best linebacker in the NFL in my opinion in Patrick Willis. If Carson Palmer can regain his form or even get close to his former self, this can be a dangerous team. Add to the equation, the hiring of Jim Harbaugh who is likely to be perceived as a bonus for Palmer.
I don’t know if Palmer will end up getting moved and if he does I’m not sure where he’ll go. But I do think both he and the Bengals need to part ways immediately. He is regressing each year and no one is benefitting from this relationship any longer. The 3 teams I laid out fit in my opinion on both sides. They are great opportunities for Palmer to get his career back on track and Palmer, even at the level he played this season, would be an upgrade to the QB’s these teams had last season.
Other teams I considered were the Miami Dolphins, who are desperate need for a QB, but I’m not sure that’s a great situation for Palmer. The Dolphins catapulted into one of the most dysfunctional teams after their horrific handling of the Jim Harbaugh interview and how they treated Tony Sparano. They undercut Sparano and set him up for failure.
The Oakland Raiders are another possibility because they need a QB and they’re a west coast team, but if I were Carson, I wouldn’t want anything to do with the Raiders. They are a team that made great strides this season, but as long as Al Davis is involved, I wouldn’t go anywhere near that team.
People in Cleveland will immediately call for a trade to bring Palmer to the Browns, but I don’t think it’s a good fit on both sides. For Palmer, why would he want to go to the Browns and be in a similar position where he was in Cincinnati. For the Browns, why would you want a veteran QB who has regressed each year for the last 5 years or so and hurt the development of Colt McCoy.
The Washington Redskins need a QB badly after the McNabb experiment appears to have failed. It’s still a possibility that they bring McNabb back and give him a chance to succeed, but given Shanahan’s treatment of McNabb, it’s unlikely. Shanahan doesn’t want McNabb there and McNabb likely doesn’t want to be there. Palmer will likely be desired by Dan Snyder and the Redskins, but I don’t think it would be a good situation for Palmer. They could throw a big extension at him though to seal the deal and I wouldn’t rule them out. This is likely Palmer’s last chance to revive his career and earn a big extension or new contract.
Tennessee is another possibility that I seriously considered. The Titans are in desperate need of a quality QB and they seem to have enough pieces in place to make a serious run for the post-season, if not the Super Bowl. They are a good team and they do have weapons in place that could help Palmer revive his career. Jeff Fisher is also a USC guy so there’s definitely a connection there. After parting ways with Vince Young, they certainly need a veteran QB that can help them win now. I would actually consider them on the same level as the other 3 teams I mentioned and I have them as my sleeper right now.
In a tulmutuous season in which we’ve already seen Mike Singletary, Josh McDaniels, Brad Childress, and Wade Phillips receive pink slips, NFL owners are not quite finished making coaching changes. Each of the previous firings are potential landing spots for some of the high profile free agent coaches out there as there is no guarantee that the interim head coaches will be retained. In fact, despite the impending lockout, it sounds less likely that any of the interim coaches will remain with their team with the possible exception of Leslie Frazier.
So who are the next coaches to get the axe?
Fox has had a long and successful run with the Carolina Panthers and he took his team to a Super Bowl which they had a great chance of winning. But since that time, they have been largely disappointing after several years of being projected as possible Super Bowl contenders. The Panthers have been the worst team in the NFL this season and have secured the #1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft. It is a near certainty that Fox will be on his way out in Carolina. But that is not to say that he’s not a good coach. I would think he will land a coordinator position for a year or two and then get back to a head coaching position. The other possibility is to take a year or two off and then put himself in for consideration for head coaching jobs.
Marvin Lewis has had a mediocre stretch with the Cincinnati Bengals and for those familiar with the team, it’s not all his fault. He is the popular whipping boy for angry fans, but the ownership plays a huge role in this franchise’s failures. I believe Marvin Lewis is a much better coach than his first tenure will show and I think he’ll be successful elsewhere. But the sad reality is that the team has underperformed over the past several years and they were absolutely putrid this season. Even last season as they swept the division, they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs and were beaten handily.
Obviously I can’t say for certain that Norv Turner will be out in San Diego, but after yet another year of an embarrassingly slow start to the season, it finally caught up to the talented Chargers. Sure, they have had their share of injuries and roster issues, but in the middle of the season they showed us just how dangerous they could be even with the injuries. After falling to the lowly Bengals yesterday, the Chargers were eliminated from the playoffs and that could be the last straw for Turner. This is an incredibly talented team and although A.J. Smith is as much to blame as Norv, A.J. isn’t going anywhere.
The Texans went from an expansion team that was fighting and making progress towards the next step in the franchise’s development to a team that is significantly underperforming in a heartbeat. The team is loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball and has a great foundation on defense with Mario Williams and Brian Cushing. After a great start, the Texans have fallen completely apart and the consensus is that there is far too much talent on this team to get these results. Add Bill Cowher’s alleged interest in the job, and I find it unlikely that Kubiak will return next season.
Eric Mangini has had a rough start to his tenure in Cleveland as he began last season at 1-11 before winning 4 straight games to end the season and potentially salvage his job. This season, the Browns have shown tremendous progress, but they are still not an elite team as far as talent goes. Mangini has been subject to a media vendetta locally, but I don’t believe he has done as awful of a job as some would lead you to believe. I believe he is a good coach and he’s building a strong foundation for long-term success. The reality is, the Browns aren’t that good, yet. But with another strong draft with the assistance of Mike Holmgren, they could make some noise in the AFC North.
The issue for Mangini though, is Mike Holmgren is allegedly itching to get back on the sidelines. So he needs to fight off Holmgren from coming down to the sideline as well as long-time colleague of Holmgren, Jon Gruden. Gruden coached under Holmgren and they share similar philosophies and styles. Gruden has been rumored to be interested in the Browns position should it become available, but nothing has been confirmed. If you listen to local media, it’s a certainty that Mangini will be fired. But keep in mind, they said the same thing this time last year. It’s certainly possible, and given the Browns struggles down the stretch, it’s probably leaning in between possible and likely towards likely.
Fisher is the longest tenured coach in the NFL right now and he has had an incredibly successful run in Tennessee. But with a disaster of a season and an apparent falling out with Vince Young, Fisher could be in trouble with the Titans and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing for him. Owner Bud Adams has a sometimes illogical propensity for Vince Young. So much so that it could actually create enough conflict to cause Adams to let Fisher go. Add that to an awful season, and you have a recipe for a coaching change. Sometimes when a coach is with a team for this long, the team and the coach can both benefit from a change in scenery. I think Fisher would be snatched up almost immediately by one of the teams with an opening if this were to occur.
Possible but Doubtful:
Tom Coughlin won a Super Bowl just a few years ago and the Giants are still fighting for a playoff spot, but they have struggled and are on the brink of complete disaster to end the season. Last week they lost to the rival Eagles despite holding a 21 point advantage midway through the 4th quarter. This week, they were destroyed by the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have lead to two previous Head Coaches’ firings following a blowout defeat to the hands of the Packers. Now this won’t happen during the season, if at all, but add the alleged interest of one Bill Cowher and there is a small possibility that the Giants will make a change.
By now you’ve heard about the shocking contract extension that Donovan McNabb signed with the Washington Redskins. 5 years, $78M with $40M guaranteed. Yep, you read that right. After Shanahan benched McNabb and essentially called him old, fat, stupid and out of shape, he signed a monster extension. It’s my belief that Daniel Snyder was none too pleased with the way Shanahan treated his QB and wanted to be sure to lock up McNabb up and also send a message to Shanahan as to where Snyder’s loyalties lie.
We weren’t the only ones caught off-guard by the blockbuster extension and Terrell Owens isn’t one to keep his opinion to himself. Owens, who has routinely disrespected McNabb and literally every other QB he’s ever played for except Carson Palmer (and he will), is apparently extremely jealous of his former QB’s new contract. Hell, I’m jealous of the contract, I’m sure a lot of players are. But you won’t see anyone else in the NFL or elsewhere display the absolute lack of class, lack of professionalism, petty jealousy, and overall poor taste that Terrell Owens displays on a regular basis.
This is just the latest in his blatant bitterness and disrespect for Donovan McNabb who is, mind you, one of the classiest and purely professional players in the NFL:
Owens has been whining about his own contract all season after literally every single NFL team passed on him except the Cincinnati Bengals. And we can see how that turned out for the Bengals. What he continually fails to realize, is his ridiculous bitterness and unprofessionalism is one of the key reasons that he’s unable to draw attention from teams and why he was only signed to a 1 year deal.
If Owens displayed even 1% of the professionalism, class, and character of McNabb who he constantly disrespects, maybe he wouldn’t have such a hard time landing a team and a big contract.
I said at the beginning of the year, when the Bengals acquired Terrell Owens and everyone was thinking he made them a SuperBowl contender that this experiment would result in failure. The Bengals swept the tough AFC North last season and lost to the Jets in the playoffs. With most of the same pieces from a year ago, a few excellent additions and one big questionable addition, the Bengals had high hopes for the 2010 season.
I didn’t think Terrell Owens would help the Bengals because I was afraid that his presence and constant demanding of the ball would cause the team to get away with what lead them to success in 2009. Defense and the running game. There is NO QUESTION that the Bengals are making a concerted effort to target T.O. as he has been targeted 25 more times than Chad Ochocinco this season and the Bengals have completely changed their offensive strategy.
I’m not sure if they are airing it out just to keep the peace because they know T.O. will blow up and they don’t want to appear stupid for yet another failed acquisition. I’m not sure if there was some informal agreement between Carson Palmer and T.O. or the team and T.O. that they would target him so that he could meet his incentives this season or what. Keep in mind that T.O. couldn’t land a team and even the Bengals would only offer him an incentive laden contract with little guaranteed money. It is clear that the Bengals are making more of an effort to target T.O. than to run the football with Cedric Benson who had an incredible season last year. T.O. by the way, is on track to meet ALL of his lofty incentives in his contract with the Bengals.
And despite T.O.’s personal successes this season (and he has had an INCREDIBLE personal year), it is coming at the direct expense of the Cincinnati Bengals. You can’t say that he has caused the Bengals failure due to his poor play or disruption in the locker room as in fairness, there have been no reports of anything like that. But it is painfully obvious each and every time Terrell Owens has an outstanding game and the Bengals lose and typically lose bad, that his individual success does not equal wins for the Bengals. In fact, it’s pretty clear that the opposite is true.
Lets face it, at this point Carson Palmer is no better than an average QB. He was once one of the great young QB’s but since his knee injury in the playoffs against the Steelers, he hasn’t been the same. While the Bengals have added incredible weapons for him including Cedric Benson, a good Offensive Line, Jermaine Gresham, Jordan Shipley, and of course the two diva WR’s, he is just not good enough to drop back 30+ times a game and he’s passing nearly 40 TIMES PER GAME!
There is no question that Terrell Owens can still play when called upon. But it is crystal clear to me that this is his sole motivation this season. To show every other NFL team and all the analysts that he can still put up #1 WR numbers. He doesn’t care what it does to the team. He is happy as can be, that’s pretty clear. The disappointing thing though, given the team’s talent and the fans’ expectations, is that the team doesn’t seem to be interested in doing the right thing for them to win. For some reason, Carson Palmer and the Bengals seem to be completely content airing it out and over-targeting T.O. despite the clear results.
I know there has to be someone in that organization that can see the obvious. When T.O. is over-targeted and puts up huge numbers resulting in the team abandoning their formula for success, they lose! Now there is also certainly something wrong with the team’s defense which played incredibly well last year. For the most part, they returned all key players on the defense and should have been poised to build upon a strong 2009 campaign.
I can’t say for certain what the cause for struggles are, but I can tell you that culture and mindset does make a difference for a team. If the team takes on a culture of toughness, physicality, running the ball and playing defense it can make a big difference. On the other hand, if the offense completely changes it’s philosophy from a physical ground & pound game to a finesse passing game throwing it 40+ times a game it CAN have an effect on the defense. Not to mention, Carson Palmer and the Bengals have turned the ball over far too much which obviously has a direct negative effect on the defense’s ability to play well.
Terrell Owens will continue to whine about not getting enough credit and praise from analysts and he’ll continue to care only about Terrell Owens. For some reason, it appears the Bengals will continue to make sure T.O. meets his incentive numbers which will only cause them to have to pay him more at the end of an awful season. T.O. will end up with impressive personal statistics, but he will have found yet another creative way to destroy a team’s season.