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Cardinals soar, Raiders run aground
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Player movement always separates the good from the bad, and that was never more evident than last week.
Hide the women, children and Al Davis. We bring you our weekly NFL sizzle and fizzle
Kevin Kolb — You know I love the trade for the Cardinals, who were desperate for a quarterback. And I totally buy it when Arizona general manager Rod Graves compared him on the SiriusXM Blitz to Matt Schaub and Aaron Rodgers, paying Kolb based on his incredible potential in the Cardinals system.
The Cardinals also got a natural leader.
It's the quality Andy Reid was raving about since Day One. It's the quality in Kolb's game that has the Cardinals staff buzzing since he arrived in Arizona, taking control of the quarterback room.
On the SiriusXM Blitz, we asked Kolb about his leadership and changing the culture in Arizona. Kolb told us, "It is very important. And the thing that I think guys get misunderstood when they think about leadership, in my opinion, is they think that it is going there and yelling and screaming at a guy or whatever. But the way I look at it is ownership really. I want to have ownership in this thing; I want my own skin to be in the game.
"If a receiver is not doing something right and I want him to break in and come right back to the quarterback (and) instead he's running around the top of a hook route, then who is going to be embarrassed on game day? Well, it is going to be me and him, us as a team.
"So that is the big thing for me, to have ownership. The coaches don't have to be the ones out there always yelling and screaming. I mean, you can go to the guy, pull him over to the side later, especially young guys, and say, 'Hey look, here is what I am looking for, here is the way it is supposed to work,' and then they get a concept at how the whole play is and what I am looking at as a quarterback. And they say, 'Oh, OK, I see it like that.'
"So there is a lot of different things that go into being a leader, not just yelling and screaming at guys and being the one that is handling the media and all that kind of stuff. There is some stuff behind the scenes that has to happen in order for you to be successful."
If you are a Cardinals fan, how great is that?
Andy Reid — What a stretch for the Eagles coach and their talented general manager Howie Roseman, assembling a crew that will be in the mix for the Super Bowl. Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, Ronnie Brown and Ryan Harris all represent major upgrades to the roster. Anyone comparing the Eagles to the Dan Snyder Redskins when they paid for an extinct Bruce Smith is lazy and foolish. Roseman saw areas of weakness and filled the voids.
Oh yeah, he also shocked the NFL and landed Nnamdi Asomugha, the biggest free agent in the league.
Roseman joined us on SiriusXM NFL Radio and told us: "I think I said it correctly when I said (Asomugha is) a unique player and person. And he is unique because it is hard to find guys with that kind of size, that kind of feet, that kind of athletic ability. He can press, he can play off, really he can match up with any receiver in the National Football League; he takes a guy away, that helps your pass rush. A high-character guy, one of the great guys in this league, off-field work, how he treats his job, his body — such a great example for our younger players because, believe it or not, we are still a very young team. Our average age, we were the third-youngest team in the NFL last year. We drafted 11 players, we are very young. To have a guy like that in our locker room is such a huge deal for us."
Mickey Loomis — Sssshhhhhhh. Don't tell anyone ... the Saints are under the radar as a true Super Bowl contender, thanks to their general manager.
Lose Reggie Bush? Sign Darren Sproles, who will be better than Bush in the role Sean Payton has for the scatback and return specialist. And Loomis made a brilliant signing when he plucked the underrated Aubrayo Franklin to plug the middle of his defense.
Mike Reinfeldt — I think the Titans' general manager did an excellent, underrated job during "Christmas in July" last week. The Titans needed a veteran quarterback, a middle linebacker and they needed leadership. Tennessee hit the jackpot by bringing in Matthew Hasselbeck to start this year and to serve as a mentor to Jake Locker. I think Barrett Ruud was the most underrated signing of last week.
The new head coach, Mike Munchak, was borderline giddy when we spoke Wednesday on the SiriusXM Blitz. He is thrilled with the upgrade in the quarterback room, and he was oozing confidence and excitement while talking about the pickups of veterans Hasselbeck, Ruud and TE Daniel Graham.
Munchak told me: "I talked to (Ruud) on the phone for the first time, and we talked for about a half-hour, had a great conversation. And I have heard about his leadership skills, and talking to him, you could feel that. We felt he was a great fit for what we were going to do now within our defensive scheme. He can play all three downs; he is a guy (new defensive coordinator) Jerry (Gray) can use in a lot of ways. Jerry does a lot of good nickel packages and some different sub packages on second and third down that he thinks Ruud can stay on the field the whole time, which makes him a better, stronger asset rather than having a first and second-down middle linebacker. ... He sees the whole package; I mean, he brings it all. He is fun to watch on tape, and I think he is going to be a great fit with the personality and leadership of Hasselbeck and Graham."
Al Davis — This has been a bleak offseason even by the low bar Al Davis has set in Oakland, and that's saying something. The arrow was pointing up in Oakland after the Raiders swept through the AFC West last season. Now, Davis and company have genuinely ruined everything and demoralized Raider Nation. The Raiders are completely clueless, and it's sadly predictable coming from Davis.
Nnamdi Asomugha becomes a free agent on a technicality? How exactly does this happen? It doesn't happen anywhere else. And did you notice how fast he ran out of Oakland, with former Raider Charles Woodson showing him the way, showing him how to put an exclamation point on a potential Hall of Fame career? You can't make a Super Bowl in Oakland. You can't win Defensive Player of the Year on a seven-win team.
Zach Miller wanted to come back. The young, talented, pass-catching tight end waited around, but Davis couldn't find the cash to pay him, so Miller bolted to Seattle.
I wonder why.
Do you think it had something to do with the grotesque and embarrassing contract they gave Stanford Routt, to the tune of $20 million in the first two years? Could it be paying Richard Seymour for his play in New England, circa 2005? Or maybe it was Kamerion Wimbley robbing the bank to the tune of a cool, freshly minted $48 million contract with $29 million guaranteed? I truly thought that was a misprint when I read it the first time. The only thing missing from that transaction was a gun and a mask.
And do you think ex-Raider coach Tom Cable loves every minute of this? Cable, the Seahawks' new offensive line coach, is the reason Miller visited Seattle in the first place. Seattle's Robert Gallery told me on SiriusXM NFL Radio he signed with the Seahawks because of Cable. Say what you want about Gallery not living up to his draft position, but he became a solid player for Oakland.
There's no way you can say the Raiders — after losing their best defensive player and one of their key offensive players — are in the conversation for the AFC West crown, and that's sad and pathetic after taking a major step forward last year.
I love the Raiders. I love their rabid fans. The NFL is a better place when Oakland is relevant and even better when the Raiders are winning. But even their fans (who sometimes still live in the '70s) can't believe what is going on, flooding our radio phone lines spewing venom.
Ryan Mathews — So how do you bounce back from an epic failure of a rookie season? If you are Ryan Mathews, you flunk your initial conditioning test at training camp. He's a running back! You truly cannot make this stuff up.
The Chargers are supposed to be flying high right now. They've done a good job in free agency, added a great defensive coordinator and have Vincent Jackson happy and in camp for the entire month. And then Mathews, who is supposed to be your bell cow back, sucks the life out of the Chargers and their fans.
Mike Tolbert is a nice player. Mathews, who on the collegiate level showed the ultimate blend of power and speed, is supposed to be special. In his brief NFL career, he's been nothing but maddening. If the Chargers want to contend for the Super Bowl, they are going to need him to finally get it right mentally and physically, and he needs to get it right now.
Jeff Ireland — You were basically neutered/fired in the offseason as your owner Stephen Ross shopped an opening for a new head coach. You need a quarterback to compete with Chad Henne, and your answer is Matt Moore? If he's the answer, I'd love to know the question.
Jon Gruden, Stephen Ross is on the phone for you.
The Bengals — It doesn't matter how many low-budget retreads the Bengals bring in. It won't make up for the loss of Johnathan Joseph. And if you don't believe me, ask defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who went bonkers when Cincy didn't re-sign him.
Joseph went to Houston, representing the missing piece on a team much closer to making the playoffs. When I talked to Joseph on SiriusXM NFL Radio, he raved about Bob McNair, the Houston front seven, Matt Schaub and the positive vibe.
Has anyone ever had a positive vibe in Cincinnati?
Joseph said, "Yeah, you know, Cincinnati was a place I would've liked to go back (to) if things could have worked out, but unfortunately it didn't. When it came down to it, my next option was Houston ... If I could not go back to Cincinnati, any other place I'd rather be would be Houston because of the situation they have here: established guys, just missing a few key pieces, and I was just hoping to be one of those pieces to be added."
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