(Thursday June 15th)
While many publications are
beginning to look at the best teams in the NFL,
there is just as much money to be made betting
AGAINST teams with weaknesses. Here's a look
at some NFL teams that appear to be moving in
the wrong direction.
Art who? Art Shell is back to coach the Raiders,
a curious move as he has not been involved in
coaching since the Raiders fired him after the
1994 season. That was a long time ago, and the
NFL has changed. Just ask Joe Gibbs, who struggled
in his first year back admitting that the game
had changed a lot. For instance, when Gibbs
was winning Super Bowls in the 1980s and 90s,
one of his mantras was maximum quarterback protection.
He tried that in 2004, but with so few receiving
targets, no one could get open against today's
Cover-2 defense. The Redskins were 29th in passing
And Shell didn't light the NFL world on fire
when he was coach the first time. His offense
coordinator will be Tom Walsh, who was fired
by the Raiders along with Shell following the
1994 season. Walsh was an assistant with the
Raiders from 1982-94, coaching quarterbacks
and receivers before becoming offensive coordinator
under Shell. Talk about a potentially throwback
attack! Will they come out in the Single Wing
or the T-Formation?
Just as curious have been the personnel moves,
getting rid of mistaken prone QB Kerry Collins
for mistake prone Aaron Brooks. Age has been
a problem with a weak defense the last few years,
signing guys like Ted Washington, DE Bobby Hamilton
and Warren Sapp. So who do they add this offseason?
11-year CB Tyrone Poole and CB Duane Starks,
the latter who was a bust with New England's
poor secondary last season. Since losing the
2003 Super Bowl to Tampa Bay, the Raiders are
14-33-1 against the spread!
Brad Childress is the new Minnesota head coach,
a former offensive coordinator with the Eagles.
I hope he knows what he's getting into. Trading
star WR Randy Moss and shipping out star QB
Daunte Culpepper in each of the last two offseasons
while getting little in return makes it very
tough on the new coach. Capable QBs are rare
in this league, and to dump Culpepper without
at least seeing if he is healthy for a potential
bounce-back season makes little sense. After
all, he is only 29-years old and in 2004 Culpepper
had an incredible season with 39 TDs and 11
They also let WR Nate Burleson walk. He was
off a poor season, but in 2004 Burleson had
1,006 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. Minnesota's
offense was 25th in the NFL in 2005, a poor
27th rushing the football, and will be again
run by 38-year old Brad Johnson. The Vikings
defense wasn't much better than the offense,
ranked 21st overall. Many eyebrows were raised
on draft day when the Vikings TRADED UP into
the second round to take Tarvaris Jackson of
Alabama State. Who? Don't worry, you're not
alone. A lot of folks are wondering what the
Vikings are doing.
The late push to nearly make the playoffs in
2004 was a mirage, folks. The Bills have gone
31-49 since 2001, tied with Cleveland for the
third worst record in the NFL over that span.
And they looked lost for 2006. New coach Dick
Jauron steps in after a less than remarkable
run with the Bears a few years ago. There is
no QB, with J.P. Losman and Kelly Holcomb battling
for the job.
And the organization decided to let go of a
lot of quality talent this offseason, losing
WR Eric Moulds, S Lawyer Milloy and NT Sam Adams
(cap casualties). One of the biggest surprises
of the 2006 draft was when the Bills selected
Ohio State safety Donte Whitner with the No.
8 pick. Buffalo surprised again by taking N.C.
State defensive tackle John McCargo, who wasn't
expected to go that high. The secondary also
adds rookies Ohio State cornerback Ashton Youboty
and South Carolina safety Ko Simpson. This secondary
will be very young, and the defense couldn't
stop the run last season (29th) and doesn't
look any better.
Bryan Leonard is a documented member of The
Professional Handicappers League.
Read more of his articles and get his premium