It’s starting to taste like football. It’s starting to smell like football.
Pretty soon, Kevin Kolb will be throwing touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona.
I can’t wait.
And as always, there’s plenty of sizzle and fizzle in the NFL.
Exactly one year ago, the Rams were a punch line. Now, with a second-year quarterback you build a franchise around, the St. Louis Rams have become an attraction.
Plaxico Burress joined us for a revealing interview on the SiriusXM Blitz on Tuesday. Plax sounded hungry, humble and eager to get back on the field and on with his life. I think he was a knucklehead his entire career, disobeying the rules even before he carried a loaded gun into a nightclub. However, I think he’s learned his lesson and realized in jail what was taken away.
Plax says he dreams about the moment he catches his first touchdown this year, and he wants to hook up with a strong head coach and franchise quarterback.
Enter the Rams.
Burress told us, "I mean, it is very appealing. I got to watch Sam Bradford just a little bit from afar, and from what I’ve seen he has all the tools to be the next elite quarterback in this league. I know how difficult that position is to play, and I know how many high draft picks come into that position and fail. But it seems like he is on the right track, he is surrounded by Spags (head coach Steve Spagnuolo), being in a great offense, having a guy like Steven Jackson behind him, who I believe is one of the top few running backs in all of football. I mean, he has been consistent ever since I can remember, and to just go to a place that refreshing, and to be with a guy that I know, who I know knows me as a person, knows me as a player and knows how much I like to compete and how much I like to win, I mean, it is a great situation. I have a lot of respect for coach Spagnulolo. We had a great relationship. When he was in New York, and I was playing on offense, and he was calling the plays, and I was always asking coach: ‘What do you got for me today?,’ just always trying to pick his brain and to see his defenses. He is a great football mind, he has surrounded himself with a great staff and he is getting all the right guys around that situation. And like I say, it is appealing, but we’ll see what all happens."
We are talking about the RAMS!
I feel terrible for the Browns. They have a new head coach, new offensive system, new defensive coordinator and new defensive scheme this year. That means they’ll be behind due to the lockout.
But great days lie ahead. Seriously.
I really believe in this brass, and I think Colt McCoy is a true winner. We saw it in college. We saw it against the Saints and the Patriots. Wait until McCoy totally absorbs Pat Shurmur’s new system.
McCoy joined us in studio on the SiriusXM Blitz this week and oozed confidence. I love what this cat brings to the table. He respects the teams in the AFC North, but believes his Browns are ready.
McCoy told us, "The good thing is that you have a lot of guys who are dedicated, who are committed. You have some veteran guys on defense, guys like Scott Fujita, Sheldon Brown, Robaire Smith, some of the older guys that played on teams. Sheldon played in Philly, Scott won a Super Bowl in New Orleans. Those guys know how to win and they know how it is supposed to be. Then you have some guys on offense. Ben Watson, our tight end, Big Joe Thomas … You got some good guys on offense, and when collectively we get together and we spend time together, our goal is to win — first and foremost, to win our division. So, we are not making any excuses, but we understand we have a lot of challenges ahead of us — like I said, a new system on offense, new system on defense, a new head coach (Pat Shurmur). But for us, internally, that creates a lot of excitement, and we are excited to hopefully get this lockout over and get back to work and get coached and be ready to go."
Mike Holmgren is the perfect football czar for this team, Tom Heckert is a great executive who had another tremendous draft and Shurmur was plucked from the Holmgren tree to replace the overmatched, personality deprived, unlikeable drill sergeant that was Eric Mangini. Holmgren, Heckert, Shurmur (who did wonders with Sam Bradford) and McCoy are all winners and will eventually thrive in Cleveland.
A fullback has sizzle? Hey, the rest of the league voted him the 60th-best player in the entire NFL!
The Texans fullback came on our radio show to rightly declare he was the best fullback in the NFL and deserved to be paid like it, specifically sighting the $3 million bucks Ovie Mughelli is making this year in Atlanta.
Leach said he wants to be back in Houston, but is eying the Giants, Seahawks and Chargers for a hefty payday if the Texans don’t acquiesce to his demands.
Cromartie wants to get paid, and I think he will during free agency.
In a wide ranging, explosive, exclusive interview on the SiriusXM Blitz, Cromartie told us, "At the end of the day, I would love to be a Jet. But I also want to go out and see what the market is and see what my value is. At the end of the day, to me, there is no such thing as a hometown discount. I ain’t giving a hometown discount to nobody."
Cromartie tells us he’ll follow the Nmamdi Asomugha sweepstakes and can cash in with the teams who don’t land Nmandi. He listed the Jets, Texans, Bucs, Seahawks, Cardinals, Cowboys and Raiders as teams who could use his services — and he’s right.
Look, Cromartie became an easy target when he stumbled his way through naming his nine kids. Thus, he wants the cash. But Cromartie can play, and he’s a likeable guy and teammate. Teams targeted him last year playing opposite Darrelle Revis. He’d represent an upgrade for all those aforementioned teams.
But having done the interview, I know Cromartie, in his heart, loves Rex Ryan, the Jets organization and wants to be back. He called them "first-class and all about their players." And he knows that first hand, from when they gave him money up front to cover child payments.
Cromartie believes he’ll be the Jets’ second priority among their 18 free agents they have to deal with during the window of exclusivity when teams can re-up with their own — and he should be. If you lose Cro, you have to replace him, and Rex Ryan doesn’t want to do that.
If you’re looking for the Jets free agent receiver, check under a bus. During that explosive interview we did with Cromartie, that’s exactly where the cornerback threw Edwards.
And for the record, I agreed with every word Cromartie uttered.
We asked Cromartie why he thought re-signing Santonio Holmes would be the Jets’ top priority in free agency and why the Jets would prioritize Holmes over Edwards.
Cromartie told us, "He fits well into the system. He never complains. He goes out and does everything what is asked of him. He comes in and does his work and is always on the same page as Mark Sanchez. He’s a workaholic on the football field. And you can tell when he goes into games how clutch of a player he is."
Cromartie never even mentioned Braylon by name. He didn’t have to. Everything he said about Holmes is exactly what teammates have been saying about him for years. Read those words again. Has anyone ever said that about Braylon Edwards? Now to Braylon’s credit, he did block well last year and did catch the ball with more regularity than the year before. But in this crazy, unprecedented free agency period, the Jets — who’ll try to keep both Holmes and Edwards — need to get Holmes signed first and foremost. He’s clearly more important than Braylon.
Lost in the shuffle with the labor insanity is a vital, gigantic NFL injury nugget; The Indianapolis Star reports Peyton Manning is not going to be ready for training camp after neck surgery.
This is a huge deal.
Manning is an all-time great, largely due to his knack for being the ultimate eraser. He eradicates major deficiencies on the Colts. Can he once again carry this team to the playoffs? Can he once again mask areas of weakness coming off surgery? Manning, by the way, is turning 35.
Look, I’m not questioning Manning’s greatness. I am questioning the Colts’ offensive line, run game, depth at receiver, overall defense, coaching defections and the in-game management of the head coach.
In talking to Texans general manager Rick Smith on the SiriusXM Blitz, he firmly stated he believes this is the year the Texans get over the hump. Barring an unforeseen run on players in free agency, I think that for the first time ever Houston will have a chance to be a better team than the Colts on paper.
Everyone is writing the epitaph on Bush’s career in New Orleans. Not so fast. League sources are telling us the team, even after drafting Mark Ingram, very much wants Bush back in a Saints uniform. Now, the team will ask Bush to take a pay cut, but Reggie should take a deep breath, put things in perspective and take what the Saints offer.
Nobody likes to give back money. Nobody likes being told they aren’t worth what they’re supposed to be paid. But Sean Payton loves Reggie Bush and still wants him to run the ball, catch it out of the backfield, catch it lined up in the slot and dominate on special teams. Bush is a great fit in Payton’s offense, and with Drew Brees as your quarterback you have a chance to win a Super Bowl. Being a strict backup to Steven Jackson in St. Louis or taking a stab with the Giants or Dolphins is not the right career move. I hope he realizes it. Don’t be foolish. Check your ego at the door, Reggie. It’s only your career hanging in the balance.
Plaxico Burress says when free agency starts he is going to look to sign with a team that employs a strong head coach with an "open door policy" and a star quarterback. Tony Sparano was basically fired without the pink slip as owner Stephen Ross shopped for a new, big-name head coach. Chad Henne regressed last year, and that’s putting it kindly. Why in the world would Plax, trying to reinvent his image, subject himself to this zaniness? Ross made a mockery of himself and the Dolphins this offseason. I think Plax wants to stay away from the circus and get back to football.