Rider's NFL Whispers (9/10/08)


Posts from Handicappers on hiatus

Rider's NFL Whispers (9/10/08)

Tarvaris Jackson is under heavy pressure to produce this week against the Colts.

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.

--As you might expect, the talk of the league and NFL Insiders this week was all about Tom Brady's injury. There seems to be a lot of differing opinions on how the Patriots will fare this season without Brady. However, no one expects them to win the Super Bowl with Matt Cassel. So regardless of how many games the Pats win, they will most likely fall short of their goal, making this a lost season. From the people I talked with, some believe the Patriots will miss the playoffs entirely, while others think they can still win 12 games. I think the most logical opinion came from one of the guys I know back in New England who told me, "The question around here has always been who was more important, Brady or Belichick? Now we will find out. Personally, I expected the Patriots to go 13-3 this year. I have to believe Tom Brady is worth four games throughout the year. Because of that reasoning, I now expect New England to win 9-10 games this year and that's if nothing else goes wrong."

Also, I asked my buddy what he thinks about Matt Cassel to which he replied, "Give me a break. You were here. What did you used to call him in practice? Pick Six? Did you get amnesia? He won't be the starter in a month. The Jets and Chargers will eat him alive."

Tommy's Two-Cents: Tom Brady is the most important player in all of sports in my opinion. To say a team can lose him and still win 12 games doesn't make sense to me. I always say I wish everyone could watch him play one time from the press box to see how incredible Brady really is. I think Bill Belichick is the best coach in football but that team IS Tom Brady. If they go 9-7 with Matt Cassel, Belichick should win Coach of the Year. Also, I did refer to Cassel as "Pick Six" because every time he threw an interception in practice (which was often) it was always returned for a score. Cassel is the nicest guy I ever met in the NFL and I wish him luck. But I don't think he can play quarterback in the NFL from what I saw over the last few years.

--One thing really bothered me about the Bengals this offseason. When I was in their locker room the last couple of years, the three guys who were always the most upset at losing were Rudi Johnson, Willie Anderson and Justin Smith. At least that's what I got from talking with them. A couple of years ago when the Bengals were big favorites over the Pats early in the year and got killed, I approached an angry Johnson. I don't know if any of you have ever seen him but the guy is enormous. He started screaming and yelling that the team was reading its own press clippings and that they needed to look in the mirror and stop all the bullcrap. I actually thought he was going to hit me at one point he was so mad.

Then last year after the Bengals lost to the Pats on Monday night, Marvin Lewis went on a 10-minute post game tirade that could be heard for miles. When I entered the locker room, most of the players were laughing and joking around but not Anderson. He was pissed and said the Patriots win because they are men that care about football, while the Bengals were little boys just worried about themselves all the time. "We need to grow up," he yelled. "We need to be like that team over there. They are men. They come to work every day and all they care about is football. The guys in this locker room all care about themselves. It's like junior high around here. It needs to change." 

Obviously, these three players are no longer around, which concerned me heading into the year. I talked to a guy who is close to the Bengals and asked him about some of the players who departed this offseason. He told me, "You think those guys care that they aren't back? They were running for the door. This place is a sinking ship. Veterans like Willie tried to keep this team together but when players don't listen to a guy who has been in the NFL for 13 years - who has the respect of players all over the league - what can you do? Marvin Lewis has lost this team. The players think he's a joke. This team needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. They are too busy changing their names and coming up with funny end zone dances. They don't care about winning. They only care about themselves. They are in for a long season."

Tommy's Two-Cents: I will be fading the Bengals all year long. I knew they made a mistake by keeping Lewis and not taking out the trash (Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmanzadeh) this offseason. I agree with my source. The Bengals are in for a long season.

--The rumblings are starting already in San Diego. Even though Norv Turner took the Chargers to the AFC Championship Game last year, he's still under a huge microscope. The Cowboys and Patriots (with Brady) are the only teams in the NFL with the kind of talent the Chargers posses. And I would argue that 1-53, San Diego is the deepest, most-talented team in the NFL and Chargers management agrees with me. They want a Super Bowl title and they want it this year. With Brady out and the Colts getting older, the Chargers believe their time is now and it better be or I'm told Turner will be gone. As one NFL Insider told me, "This is a big year for Norv. If this team stays healthy, anything less than a Super Bowl title is unacceptable. A.J. Smith has built a heck of a football team and they are relying on Norv to win the Super Bowl with all that talent. If he doesn't, he's gone and they will bring in someone who can. It's Super Bowl or nothing for Norv. It may not be fair but that's the reality of it."

--Speaking of the Super Bowl, another team that believes they should be in the mix is the Minnesota Vikings. Tarvaris Jackson is under the gun big-time this week against the Colts. A loss on Sunday to Indy and the Vikings will be sitting at 0-2. And if Jackson doesn't perform well, don't expect Brad Childress to sit still. I'm told Jackson needs to step up his game this week or Childress could be ready to hand the offense over to Gus Frerotte. Childress still likes Jackson and believes he can be a good NFL quarterback but on the other hand, it's hard to let him learn on the fly when the Vikings are trying to make a Super Bowl run. Ideally, Childress would just like to have Jackson lead the team to the postseason but watch this situation closely because if Jackson doesn't make plays this week, the veteran Frerotte could get the call against Carolina.

  • I'm with you Altham. They are still a well-coached team with talent. They play some teams that look to be pretty bad. The tests will be the Jets and Chargers. If they get killed by those two, they are in trouble. If they compete, even if they lose, they still have a chance. I just can't trust Cassel right now from what I've seen out of him. If he plays well this week, I'll change my mind.

  • Thanks for the update Tommy. IMO the pats will probally win 9-10 games and may grab a wild card. They still have a bunch of veterans and there running game is improved. Thanks for the inside info on the Bungals. I agree Fade away.

  • TOTALLY agree regarding Viks situation.....He aint even close to ready IMO.......

  • Thanks guys, I'm glad you enjoy it. I'm a little surprised that Minny is thinking about pulling Jackson already. They are really going to kill that kid's confidence. He shouldn't be a starter in the first place. That will an interesting team to watch over the next couple of weeks.


  • No doubt Jackson is under the gun in Minnesota.  Despite Monday's loss, the Vikings are STILL 5/1 to win the Super Bowl here in Vegas.  They may lose again this week and then will face even more pressure in trying to duplicate what the Giants did last year in starting out 0-2 and ending up as Super Bowl champs.

  • Good stuff Tommy, thanks.

  • Nice Read. BRADY had the GREATEST Year EVER by a QB. Let's see How Good of a COACH Belichick is WITH OUT him. IMO Brady was WORTH more like 6 GAMES.

    Bungals COULD Finish 3-13.

    Who starts SEASON 0-2? Jackson or Manning IMO Vikes will be 0-2.

    Could Chargers go 0-2? Broncos LOOKED Improved. Tough CALL.