We are less than 3 weeks away from the start of the NFL season...one of my boys from Cortland, Ohio took the time to respond to some NFL questions...Jamie "the Dingo" Persino now lives in Erie, Pa with his wife and two kids...he made an early living hustling guys at pool halls...
Q1. Every season there are a few teams that do really well even though they were predicted to have a lousy team. For example, the Dolphins went from 1-15 to a playoff team in one year. Who are some surprise teams that we should keep an eye on and why?
A. In terms of wins, I see the biggest improvement coming from Seattle. They finished with a dismal 4-12 record after a season where they battled injuries at QB and WR. The Seahawks were so thin at WR we were introduced to unknown players like Michael Bumpus and Logan Payne. The leading receiver was John Carlson the TE with 55 catches. The fullback had 20 catches which was 5th best on the squad. That's not a good stat to have. It's hard to stretch a defense that way. You just cannot expect to move the ball with that kind of turnover at QB and WR.
Matt Hasselbeck is supposedly healthy along with his receiver corps, and they added a very reliable target in TJ Houshmandzadeh. That right there is a good start, but if you look further into the numbers tailbacks Julius Jones and Maurice Morris both averaged over 4 yards per carry combining for just under 1300 yards. Not bad for a couple below average backs on a team with no passing attack...what does that say about the O-line? Throw a solid goaline back in TJ Duckett and I see a well-rounded offensive attack. Adding rookie LB Aaron Curry to an already solid defense can't hurt either. The 'Hawks still have to get past the Cards to make the playoffs, but the rest of the division is weak so I could see them easily getting 8-9 wins. If they really start clicking why not a few more???
Q2. What are your thoughts about the NFL playing an 18-game regular season?
A. On the surface I like the idea of more games, and I hate the preseason. And I really think a few scrimmages would get the job done. So it's an easy decision right? But when all the surrounding issues are brought to light, it's not so easy. First off, I am curious to see how the players hold up. It is already hard enough to stay healthy for 16 full-speed games, add two and it may be too taxing. Can you imagine a running back having 450+ carries in one season...possibly 500 touches? A two-back system would be absolutely necessary, which brings me to my next point.
Teams would have to change the way they manage from the front office to the field. For instance, if a team is looking to sign a free agent or draft a top prospect they would need to look closer at toughness and past injuries. On the field, coaches would have to platoon players more often to keep them fresh. In a nutshell they will just have to be deeper. Perhaps a 53 man roster would not be adequate. Not to mention the players will certainly want more money. Making the game more expensive and diluting the talent pool is not a good recipe. Is the NFL ready for all that with the CBA looming?
The NFL is the king of sports right now (The old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind), and that is uber important during a recession. Many fans of other sports like hockey, basketball, and baseball complain of the long seasons and diluted talent. The NFL is king because it is short, sweet, and competitive. It keeps everyone hungry for more. If you add games, you take away what makes the game great by diluting the experience for the players and the fans. If I were commissioner I would want hungry fans and hungry players, wouldn't you? Other than truncating the preseason I would not change a thing.
Q3. Fun question - you have just been granted a franchise and you are able to select any 2 players in the NFL to build your team around. Who would you select and why?
A. Players considered:
Troy Polamalu SS
Calvin Johnson WR
Larry Fitzgerald WR
Nnamdi Asomugha CB
Adrian Peterson RB
Patrick Willis LB
Joe Thomas LT
This is one of the toughest questions I have ever answered regarding football. My first concern for selecting these two players would be age. Too old and too young both come with added risk, so I am looking for players aged 24-29 with at least 2 years experience. That quickly removes the likes of Manning, Brady, and Brees the games best quarterbacks. I want to find players that are born leaders and players that are dynamic at their position. Difference makers. Game changers.
I want to see opposing coordinators having to plan their strategy around these players. Polamalu was the first player that came to mind, but he plays very physical and has had a few concussions so I have to rule him out even though I bleed black and gold. Next I looked at Fitzgerald and Megatron. I know I would regret building a franchise with WR's (see Lions Drafts for the past decade) besides, I could not choose between the two. Then I thought about a lock-down corner Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders, but again that is almost only slightly better than drafting a WR.
And even as dynamic and talented as Adrian Peterson is he is still injury prone and I don't want to start my franchise with a running back either - they are almost a dime a dozen. Besides, I will probably be running two maybe three RB's anyway, so I can waste my pick there. What I really need is some meat and potatoes. I need a strong foundation to start this team off right. I need to build from the trenches. No defensive linemen really excited me so I quickly moved on to linebacker.
Ray Lewis...Lawrence Taylor...somebody like that. Patrick Willis, although not in the same category as the aforementioned legends, he is a machine. He is great against the run and the pass and would be the perfect anchor to base my new defense around. Now I want to turn to offense to keep good balance. My second pick would be LT Joe Thomas of the lowly Cleveland Browns. Stud left tackles are a rare commodity, and even more rare to find one playing at his level at the age of 24. He may not be the best o-lineman out there right now but he will be, and he will be playing on my squad for a long and brilliant career.
Q4. Of the current 32 NFL head coaches, who would you select to coach your team in a one-game must win situation? Why did you choose this coach?
A. Jeff Fisher. I think Coach Fisher has a good blend of skills on and off the field. He has also proven ability to effectively coach good teams and bad teams. He just seems even and consistent and I am willing to take him even without a Super Bowl win.
Q5. Last question - who will play in this year's Super Bowl -- and your winner?
New Orleans and San Diego - Winner San Diego
Ohio State CB Conley facing rape accusation -
1 hour ago