Tommy Rider's NFL Whispers


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Tommy Rider's NFL Whispers

Some NFL people believe Jay Cutler and the Broncos will be in for a long season.

I spent the last couple of days compiling some info from my contacts around the NFL. About this time of year I like to ask them what they are hearing about certain teams around the league in regards to overrated/underrated, personnel concerns and those sorts of things. Keep in mind that I'm passing along this information. It's not my OPINION. If I want to add my thoughts after I post the info, I'll write it under "Tommy's Two-Cents." Also, these are RUMORS. A lot of media people and personnel guys hear things but media people, in particular, can't just publish everything they hear. That's where I come in. I'm not stating these things as fact, just buzz going around the league. If you don't like that sort of thing then you probably won't like this column. I have no favorites. If I hear something on Tony Romo, I will let you know about it. I will run this whispers segment once a week if you guys find it interesting and helpful.

 --On paper, the Cowboys offense certainly looks like a well-oiled machine. However, someone close to the team told me the organization is bordering on panic when it comes to the No. 2 receiver role. While Patrick Crayton has become a solid player, there is a growing sense in Dallas that his bark is bigger than his bite. Even after dropping two critical passes in the playoff loss to the Giants, Crayton still ran his mouth this offseason. The Cowboys will put up with that kind of nonsense from a player of T.O's caliber but Crayton is starting to become a bigger headache than many in Dallas believe he's worth. As my guy told me, "Patrick Crayton is a pretty good player. Pretty good players shouldn't talk so much." Don't be surprised if Terry Glenn is brought back before the start of the season unless Crayton does more of his talking on the field instead of off it.

--The Dolphins signed Chad Pennington to be their starting quarterback this year but they believe the future will belong to Chad Henne. I talked to someone in Miami who told me, "They love him. The coaching staff thinks they have a future star quarterback on its hands but they don't want to throw him into the fire too early and ruin his confidence." Unless Pennington has an incredible season, my source said he expects Henne to be the Dolphins starter in 2009.

--I ask people what they are hearing around the league about certain teams and one that doesn't have a lot of backing right now is the Denver Broncos. A few personnel guys told me they aren't sure what direction the Broncos are heading in right now. As one scout said, "Where's the talent? You look at that team and it's one hole after another. Cutler looks like he's a player and Bailey is still a great corner but they don't have the depth or overall talent-level they once did."

--A team on the other end of the spectrum is the Baltimore Ravens. Many people around the NFL believe the Ravens still have a lot of talent on their roster and they just grew stale with Brian Billick as the head coach. New coach John Harbaugh has installed a no-nonsense approach that fits the personality of this team better than Billick's laid back style. One AFC scout told me, "If you look at the teams that didn't make the playoffs last year, they have the most talent. If they can get any stability at the quarterback position, they will make a run in their division."

--There appears to be some dissention on the 49ers and it revolves around the quarterback position. The problem is that there are three quarterbacks - Alex Smith, Shaun Hill and J.T. O'Sullivan - vying for the starting job and the players are split on which one they think should get it. A large portion of the roster believes Hill showed enough late last season to be given a chance to open the year as the starter over journeyman O'Sullivan and the disappointing Smith. Still, offensive coordinator Mike Martz likes O'Sullivan, which is the cause for a lot of the tension. This is an important year for Head Coach Mike Nolan so keep an eye on this situation during the preseason. A team divided over who the starting quarterback should be at this point in the season could be in for a long year. 

  • VR,

    Cutler had Type I Diabetes and didn't know it. I have had the same disease for 25 years now. I can't believe he was even able to play knowing how he must have felt in those games. I too expect a big year from Cutler but in my opinion, the Broncos are one of the toughest teams to gauge heading into the season. Good luck this year. I look forward to your plays.

  • Good Stuff Tommy...I think Cutler is going to have a much better year than he did in '07...If you remember, he got sick towards the middle of the year and never recovered...and I remember getting some solid info that he didn't even know what was wrong with him, but he just kept dropping weight and was sluggish at practice and game-day...Word is, they got to the bottom of that during the off-season and he is at the best weight he's been since coming to the NFL and they say his strength has improved tremendously...Not saying that Denver will be a force this season, especially with the Chargers in that division...but don't be surprised to see a rejuvinated and probably the best we will get to see...of Jay Cutler. Best of Luck, VR

  • i thought that wes welker was going to be out for the year?

  • That's why I laugh when I here all the criticism about Romo. There were like seven drops in that game. Romo was running for his life and still making plays but he wasn't getting much help. As I told Matty, on my list of things that I'm worried about with the Cowboys, Tony Romo's ability to play QB is last on that list. He's more than proven himself to me and I'm not one to just fall in love with the hype. That guy can flat-out play.

  • Stew... that was it, I remember thinking that if they convert on that play the Boys win, mind you I was happy they didn't lol

  • You're right steeltown12, if Crayton had caught the ball in that playoff game, the Boys beat the Giants.

  • If I were a Cowboys fan, I'd be nervous with Crayton as my No. 2.  I know it was just one game but he really stunk it up in the playoffs last year

  • Stew, the guy I talked to said it's all up to Sam Hurd. If the team has confidence in Hurd entering the season, they will probably stand pat. If not, they will bring in Glenn and others for a tryout. They are using Felix Jones at WR but how much can we expect out of a rookie RB playing receiver? The other problem comes if T.O. is out for like a month with an injury. Then all of a sudden a potent offense becomes a lot easier to defend. Hopefully Crayton can just step up but I too wonder if he can take that next step.

  • Tommy,

    You think them bringing Glenn back is a real possibilty? If so, how healthy is he? I thought the Boys made a big mistake by not drafting a WR or picking one up in free agency. We all know T.O. is going to get hurt or do something stupid this year. We need another WR badly!

  • Solid stuff Tommy, appreciate it.

  • Next thing you'll hear out of the Cowboys Camp is that Tony Romo is seeing Jessica Simpson.....Oh wait....That was Last Year!


  • Outstanding stuff Tommy - this is why you are a true asset to Pregame.

  • D-Money, what are you thoughts on the Broncos this season? I was surprised to hear so many people down on them because Shanahan is such a well-respected coach.