Tommy's NFL Whispers (8/26/08)


Posts from Handicappers on hiatus

Tommy's NFL Whispers (8/26/08)

The Patriots Scott Pioli apparently doesn't follow the Pro Bowl voting.

Below are some tidbits I've gathered from different sources. 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.

--I have been asking my NFL people about the Patriots to see how many of them are concerned with the team's poor preseason performance thus far. Most of them aren't concerned at all. Everyone realizes that the quarterbacks not named "Brady" on that team suck. However, I thought one response I got was interesting. "You always hear about the "system" in New England. You hear that their "system" works. The only system they have is Tom Brady. With Tom Brady they have a winning system. Without Tom Brady their system is the same as any other team."

--Speaking of the Patriots, I heard an interesting story from one of my New England Insiders (Yes, I still have some) about Scott Pioli. For those of you that don't know, Pioli is basically in New England to gather information for Bill Belichick and to get his coffee. He's basically a high-priced gopher. Every major decision made by that organization comes directly from Belichick. That's a major reason why Pioli won't go to another team for more money. He doesn't want to get exposed. So, my New England guy tells me that he was standing in the Eagles tunnel before the players took the field. Apparently, Philly DE Trent Cole was talking smack to the fans and saying how the Eagles were going to kill the Pats. As Cole ran out, Pioli said to the person standing next to him, "I would like to see that guy make one f***ing play in this league before he starts talking sh*t like that." Of course, Cole has not only made a play in the NFL, he was in the Pro Bowl last season after recording 12.5 sacks and 70 tackles for the Eagles. Cole is already 15th in franchise history in sacks and his 70 tackles last year led all NFC defensive ends.  Ladies and gentlemen, your Director of Player Personnel for the New England Patriots.

--Rookie Matt Ryan is not only making the Falcons look good for drafting him, he's making another young quarterback look bad. According to one NFL personnel guy I spoke to, Ryan is miles ahead of the Raiders JaMarcus Russell, despite the fact Russell is in his second NFL season. He said watching both Ryan and Russell on tape is like night and day. "Ryan is so much further along in terms of making reads, pocket presence and understanding defenses. Russell still looks lost in the pocket to me and he misses a lot of open receivers. He doesn't look comfortable. Ryan gets the ball out quicker and hits his target a lot of the time. Just from breaking these two guys down, if they both re-entered the draft, there would be no doubt who the top rated quarterback would be."

--As you might expect, there are grumblings coming out of Tennessee and they center around the team not doing everything they can to give quarterback Vince Young some weapons on offense. Young is a dynamic player but his receiving corps has been below-average since he entered the league. Without quality receivers, Young is reverting back to some bad habits. As the person I spoke to told me, "When the Titans drafted Vince they wanted him to stay in the pocket more and be more of a passer. In his rookie reason, he showed a lot of development in that area. But watching him late last season and this preseason, he's reverted back to looking at one receiver and if he's not open, he starts to move his feet. He doesn't trust his receivers and believes he needs to do everything on his own. I think Vince may be in for a long year but it's not really his fault. The organization's refusal to get him a quality receiver could be his downfall."

--I've talked to people about the Shawne Merriman situation and there seems to be some misinformation out there. As of now, Merriman's career isn't in jeopardy as long as he gets the surgery. It's "IF" he doesn't get surgery and tries to play on the injured knee where he could be putting his career in danger. From the people I talked to, they said Merriman won't be playing in 2008 but he should be back for next season. When asked if the Chargers are in trouble without Merriman, one NFL Insider said, "It's a crushing blow. That defense revolves around him. Every great 3-4 defense has one premier pass rusher and Merriman is that guy for the Chargers. I originally picked San Diego to win the Super Bowl but I can't see them getting there without Merriman."

Tommy's Two-Cents: I disagree that the Chargers are done without Merriman. While I certainly think he's one of the top pass rushers in the NFL, the Chargers are extremely deep at OLB. While I would much rather have Merriman on my defense, I think San Diego is one of the few teams in the NFL deep enough to overcome his loss.

  • I can't say I'm surprised, but your writing is better than it was at your last job.  I'm sure it's easier without little men who are afraid of losing their jobs looking over your shoulder all the time, but still, nice work.  I may take up gambling yet.

  • Wow Chuck. You already have Russell in the Ryan Leaf category? I'll give him one more year but I haven't liked what I've seen so far. One thing I heard about LSU players: Great athletes who don't always like to work hard off the field. I like to call it "The Les Miles Syndrome." lol

    Altham, Belichick's personnel evaluation is vastly underrated. I would say coach-wise, he ranks second in my time to Jimmy Johnson in that area.

  • JaMarcus Russell & Ryan Leaf  are the WORST QB 'sever picked 1st or 2nd in NFL History.

  • JaMarcus Russell sucks and I love it - Hate the Raider Nation here in So Cal

  • I otally agree that when Brady and Belichick crossed paths the result was a dynasty. Without one or the other there probably in no super bowl wins. I may have underestimated the time Belichick puts into the personnel decisions, front office etc. Everyone always talks about his ability to game play etc.

  • No problem Altham. You have every right to disagree with me but like I said before, these are things TOLD to me. I have nothing against Pioli. I actually saved an e-mail he sent to me while I was working there thanking me for writing a piece on how the media was unfairly targeting Randy Moss. It's just that my belief from working with the Pats is the team wins because of Belichick and Brady. As long as those two are alive, the Pats are going to be tough to beat because in my opinion, they are both the best at what they do, maybe the best ever. People think I don't like Belichick because of a previous blog. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have the utmost respect for the man. I think all coaches should be secretive and not tip their hand. Belichick isn't getting paid to give the media information. I think all coaches should run their team like Belichick. My point about Pioli is actually me saying Belichick does even more than people know. The guy is a machine. I think he sleeps like one hour a night. Again, thanks for the feedback.

  • Thanks for the reply Tommy. I have enjoyed your articles and respect you opinion. Good luck this season in CFB and NFL.

  • Altham,

    Gopher is an expression. I can assure you that Pioli has very little say in who the Patriots draft, if any at all. This story was told to me by someone standing right next to him at the time. If you don't believe it, that's certainly your choice. Thanks for the feedback.

  • If anyone watched watched Ryan at BC they would know that he is a better QB than Russell. Everyone is in love witht he (Russell) can through the ball 80 yards. I think he will be a nice back up in the NFL.

  • I personally disagree with your coments on Pioli. Why would the patriots pay him if he did nothing? They could pay a college intern to be his gopher. Sorry Tommy this has BS written all over it.

  • Belichick doesn't drink coffee.

  • Spartan, I didn't hear anything from the Packers themselves. I don't really have anyone in Green Bay to be honest with you. However, from the National guys I talk to, they tell me the team loves Rodgers. They obviously wish they had some better depth behind him but they think they can still be an elite team with Rodgers at QB because they re-tooled that entire offense to fit his strengths. I tend to agree. I think if GB can avoid the injuries they had this preseason, the Packers are going to be tough once again this year.

  • Tommy, I figure if you had heard anything it would be part of your blog but it never hurts to ask. Have you heard anything from inside the Packer offices as to how they feel now with camp winding down about Aaron Rodgers and his readiness to go and if they are still comfortable with the two rookies backing him up. It sounds like Flynn is moving ahead of Brohm for the 2nd spot. Just curious if you had heard anything, thanks buddy!

  • Stew,

    The year Russell came out I was at the NFL Combine. He walked in like he was already a Pro Bowler. I always worry about guys like that. I don't mind confidence. That's a good thing. But do you really need to come to the Combine with an entourage? That was the first time I saw that.

  • Good stuff as always Tommy! Can't wait to watch Matt Ryan this year. I never thought Russell was that good anyway. Can you say BUST???