Share This Story

foxsports admin


The NFL's FAQ...
Word on the Street

Fans around the NFL always have questions regarding many issues they hear or read about in the fine print of Transactions listings.

Here are 10 questions buzzing around league circles recently, along with the scoop on what's really going down ...

Scout's Spotlight
1. SAINTS - Who's team is this?
2. EAGLES - Can Duce turn it loose?
3. REDSKINS - Is Shane really their guy?
4. BENGALS - Kitna (gulp) or Gus (gulp)?
5. RAIDERS - Geritol anyone?
6. COWBOYS - Paging Jay Novacek ...
7. RAMS - Who's on defense (again)?
8. JETS - Have they flipped at OT?
9. LIONS - Who's Fair-est CB of all?
10. COLTS - Et tu, Ben Gay?
1. How do the Saints plan on rebounding from last season's disastrous, 7-9 season? One certainty when looking at the Saints is their off-season moves have been bent on adding more speed to the offense, especially with wide receivers who can make plays downfield.

Another thing is certain. They will have to open up their vault to pay their starting quarterback like a franchise player. There¿s no question that this is becoming quarterback Aaron Brooks¿ team, or at least club management has designs on Brooks being their franchise guy. With his athletic talent and strong arm, the Saints are doing everything possible to put him in a position to succeed and make big plays.

As We Were Saying...
The New Orleans Saints' dysfunctionality isn't anything new. On May 3rd,'s David Moore wrote about the mess in the Saints' locker room.
Look at their additions this spring. They lacked a playmaker in the passing game outside of Joe Horn. It resulted in the club adding veteran Jerome Pathon and rookie Donte¿ Stallworth to give the offense more speed and favorable matchup options. They also added veteran tight end David Sloan to add more balance within the passing game. There¿s little question they are trying to take advantage of Brooks¿ ability to push the ball downfield and make things happen in and out of the pocket. In Brooks¿ first full season as a starter in 2001, he passed for 26 touchdowns and 3,832 yards, and ran for another 358 yards. But his efficiency must improve to take his game to another level and the Saints back to the playoffs. He threw 22 interceptions and fumbled nine times last season. Those numbers must improve, though the blame can¿t be placed fully on Brooks. The offensive line broke down often, resulting in Brooks being sacked 55 times, and the Saints' lack of weapons that contributed. Entering his fourth year, with just 1 1/2 seasons as a starter, Brooks still has time to continue developing and most indications point towards continued improvement. That¿s why the Saints have made locking up Brooks to a contract extension a priority before the 2002 season begins.

2. Will Duce Staley bounce back to form for the Eagles?

He will have to. With Correll Buckhalter down for the year, the spotlight at running back again falls on Duce Staley and he¿s definitely not complaining.

Scout's Recommendation
I¿ve heard Buffalo¿s Shawn Bryson as a possible trade option for the Eagles.

Bryson is a very intriguing RB who ended last season on a strong note. He¿s a hard runner with some size and above-average speed. He also can make plays out of the backfield in the passing game. This would be a very good move for the Eagles because Bryson¿s speed and pop would give Andy Reid a nice blend of what he¿s looking for in the backfield.

But it¿s critical that Staley returns to form for the Eagles. Since suffering a severe foot injury during the 2000 season and being slowed by a shoulder problem last fall, Staley hasn¿t been the same runner.Nor have the Eagles had a presence in the backfield that commands the attention of defenses like Marshall Faulk or even Garrison Hearst. His shoulder will be the key because Staley¿s strength is breaking tackles and gaining quality yardage after contact.

Expect Staley to bounce back with a steady year, but he may never again be the dynamic presence Andy Reid wants in the backfield over the long-term. 3. Do the Redskins really expect Shane Matthews to get them into the playoffs?

That's the short-term goal in their long-term picture.

At least the Redskins stabilized their quarterback picture with veteran Shane Matthews until Patrick Ramsey is ready to assume starting duties. Matthews won¿t make big plays and has physical limitations, but he¿s smart and efficient enough not to drastically hurt his offense. All they are asking Matthews to do is make good decisions with the football.

Thankfully, someone inside the organization realized that¿s a lot better than going with Sage Rosenfels, who simply isn¿t ready for the hot spot, or Danny Wuerffel, who just can¿t play in the NFL (sorry Steve).

4. Who is the starting quarterback for the Bengals since Akili Smith appears to have been a major bust? Does it really matter? Jon Kitna is still the starting quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals, but it¿s likely a matter of time before Gus Frerotte claims his hold on that dubious throne.

Neither is a long-term solution to become the franchise starter they need to lead the club back to glory. There can be a lot of arguments that Kitna didn¿t get much help from his young receivers, but he still has too many limitations. Frerotte will likely have some productive games this season, but he¿s never proven to be an effective quarterback throughout the course of a 16-game season. Frerotte has good tools and posts good numbers when he¿s in a rhythm, but suffers from inconsistency when he loses that touch because he lacks the natural instincts of most starting quarterbacks. As for the future, the Bengals could find some interesting options next April in what should be a QB-laden first round. Unfortunately, they would have to ride through the development of a youngster.

5. Did the Raiders sign Rod Woodson just for his leadership skills or do they really believe he¿s still a great player? Veteran Rod Woodson may not be quite the same player he was in his prime, but he could provide the Raiders with an extra push as they hope to squeeze another season from their veteran roster to fulfill Super Bowl dreams. These days he relies mostly on his experience and intelligence to put him in the right position to make plays, but his leadership ability could really glue together their secondary, which includes rookie Phillip Buchanon and second-year safety Derrick Gibson. Even Charles Woodson figures to benefit by learning some veteran tricks from one of the best physical cornerbacks in league history. In veterans Trace Armstrong, Bill Romanowski, and Rod Woodson, the Raiders¿ defense will possess a lot of bite to it. On a related note, Redskins¿ defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis was disappointed when former Baltimore safety Rod Woodson signed with the Raiders. Lewis would have loved to have Woodson as a stabilizer at free safety in his secondary. 6. Is Tony McGee the solution for Dallas at tight end?

The Cowboys struck out during their tight end search earlier this spring, but added a short-term fix in former Bengal Tony McGee, who at least understands the offensive scheme Bruce Coslet has brought to Dallas.

McGee has enough speed to become a factor in the passing game, but he¿s never been consistent, especially with his hands. He should be a decent blocker.

But sorry Cowboy fans, he's no Jay Novacek.

7. How will St. Louis plan on making up for more defensive defections this season?

The Rams made a nice addition by signing former Falcon and Viking defensive end John Burrough, who sat out last season due to injuries.

Burrough is a blue-collar, high-motor player who has been effective against the run in the past. That¿s exactly what they need at left end to complement pass rush specialist Leonard Little. Although Burrough isn¿t a natural pass rusher, he will pick up a few sacks with his intensity.

With Damione Lewis still battling foot problems, Burrough address concerns regarding their depth.

8. Are the Jets making a mistake by flipping their offensive tackles? Many league officials feel the Jets made a wise move by moving Jason Fabini back to right tackle, but wonder whether Kareem McKenzie will have the mental toughness to handle duties on the left side. McKenzie displayed solid tools at Penn State, but dropped in the 2001 draft because many scouts felt he underachieved in college. 9. Is too much being made regarding the Lions' issues at cornerback? In a word, no. The Lions' picture at cornerback doesn¿t look promising considering the status of Terry Fair¿s foot problem.

Without Fair, Todd Lyght and rookie Andre Goodman are penciled in as starters. Lyght is just average these days while Goodman still needs refinement. There¿s little question they will have to seek a veteran before training camp. 10. The Colts picked up Ben Gay — the RB, not the muscle relaxant? What role could he play for them on a team already blessed with Edgerrin James and Dominic Rhodes?

Many league members were also surprised when the Colts picked up former Cleveland running back Ben Gay. They may give Gay a look-see as a kick returner.

Here's what Browns head coach Butch Davis has said of Gay:

"There won't be anybody in this league that has much more talent than him. Ben's biggest challenge will be the maturity aspect of learning ... how hungry will he be to work to get a bigger piece of the action?"

Talent finder Bill Polian agrees that Ben Gay is — as Butch Davis once said — like finding money. He had no college experience, eight games in junior college and half a game in the CFL before making the NFL. If he works out, it's a bonus for Indy.

Brian DeLucia is a respected college and pro personnel consultant around the NFL. Formerly a consultant with and Pro Football, Brian enjoys his second season with providing commentary around the NFL and NFL Draft.

Tagged: Falcons, Bears, Bengals, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Patriots, Saints, Jets, Eagles, 49ers, Seahawks, Redskins, Ravens, Steelers, Chargers, Bob Hallen, Shane Matthews, Gus Frerotte, Jerome Pathon, Marcus Spears, Derrick Gibson, Charles Woodson, Marshall Faulk, Leonard Little, Damione Lewis, Joe Horn, Cam Cleeland, Deuce McAllister, Aaron Brooks, Ricky Williams, Jason Ferguson, Kareem McKenzie, Correll Buckhalter, Duce Staley, Kendyl Jacox, Sage Rosenfels

More Stories From foxsports admin

More Than Sports on MSN