Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears, Week 10 1995

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I am watching one of the NFL’s forgotten classic games on NFL Network right now. I’ve made it a habit of DVR’ing these games and this is one I did not recognize. It was five days before my 13th birthday on November 5th, 1995.

The box score shows an absolute shootout, won in overtime by the Steelers 37-34. Here are the things I’m seeing as I roll the tape:

  • Erik Kramer is mentioned as having a dream season at the beginning of the telecast. Despite having Rashaan Salaam, the Bears are working out at the moment because Kramer leads the NFL in touchdown passes entering the game with 18.
  • The telecast crew mentions the Bears success due to Dave Wannstedt.
  • Jeff Graham at wide receiver, out of Ohio State University.
  • I see Kevin Greene on the screen early almost intercepting a Kramer pass; what a monster Greene was in these days. He had nine sacks in 1995, and none on this day at Soldier Field.
  • Bears entered the game -2.5 favorites.
  • This slugfest ends in overtime on a Norm Johnson 24-yard field goal.

Also on this day around the NFL:

*The Oilers blew out the Browns in Cleveland 37-10.

*The Raiders and Jeff Hostetler snuck past the Bengals in Cincinnati 20-17. This was very early in Jeff Blake’s run.

*Brett Favre had a rough week in what turned out to be his ‘house of horrors’ at the Metrodome in Minnesota.

*The Panthers and rookie Kerry Collins beat the 49ers in San Francisco 13-7. Elvis Grbac was under center that day for the 49ers.

*The Broncos covered an 8-point spread easily in Denver 38-6. The Cardinals were a shell of their current selves in those days, and the Broncos were on their way to an 8-8 season. Garrison Hearst had 12 carries for 50 yards.

*My wife and father in law’s Giants wasted a great effort from Dave Brown and lost to the Seahawks 30-28 in Seattle.

Marcus Mariota begins Minicamp

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Hey, just because we love Jameis Winston more than any other player doesn’t mean that we don’t have love for the guy who will be compared as his counterpart for the entirety of their careers.

Marcus Mariota’s on-field Tennessee Titans career began today, with the Titans minicamp. He was a little bit ‘anxious’ as he described it. But there are big fireworks on the horizon for the former Heisman Trophy Winner.

“It felt good. I was a little anxious. It’s been a long process, and to finally get on the field, you have that feeling,” Mariota said. “I just want to be myself, and that is getting to know the guys and putting in the hard work and learning the offense and trying to execute it.

“I am going to build relationship and try and enjoy this beautiful game that we play. I feel like everything I have done up to this point has prepared me for this.”

We are going to learn a lot about Mariota and Winston’s rivalry starting week one. We have just several short months until that September day. As someone who just enjoys the passing game, Mariota throwing to those big Titans receivers over the next few years should be a lot of fun to watch. He should be successful in the NFL.

Jameis Winston is obsessed with the playbook

Kenny Bell is no dummy. He’s buddied up to Jameis Winston, and he knows that by sticking close to number five, he’s got the best chance to stick long in the league.

Bell talked up his minicamp roommate and his dedication to the playbook recently.

Speaking with WDAE-AM 620 on Tuesday, Bell elaborated on his relationship with Winston and Winston’s obsession with football.

“He’s the best roommate I’ve ever had, one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Bell said. “It’s been phenomenal. We’ve been going from about 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and then we get back to the hotel and he wants to study more … He’s dedicated to his job, that’s for sure.”

Winston was probably the best roommate Bell has ever had because he only spent two nights with him. At that point they’re not seeing annoying tendencies of one another. I’m only kidding by the way.

It is absolutely awesome to hear about Winston pouring this kind of time into the playbook.

Bobby Bowden disses Jameis Winston

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Back in 1994, I was a 12 year old kid and I LOVED Florida State. When I first started following NCAA in 1993, they were the #1 ranked team in the country (before Notre Dame knocked them off) with a flashy Heisman winner named Charlie Ward.

Bobby Bowden was on top of the NCAA world back then. Now, he’s retired all these years later and in his old age he’s shooting his mouth off about Jameis Winston – even if it was provoked by Paul Finebaum.

“I think it’s a consensus among Florida State fans and boosters that he was an embarrassment, in a lot of ways, to the university,” Bowden said on “The Paul Finebaum Show”. “He won a lot of ball games and was probably one of the best football players that ever attended Florida State but he hurt himself off the field. The good news is he’s young enough to get over that.

“… He just can’t make those junior high school decisions he made when he was in college.”

Winston was probably the greatest Seminole of all-time; in my opinion. He was a legendary college figure and brought the school much prominence despite a few bumps in the road.

It was nice to see Lovie Smith quickly come to his defense. I can’t wait until Winston has five years in the NFL and not a whisper of trouble off the field to put this stuff to rest.

Odell Beckham is your Madden ’16 Cover Athlete

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Odell Beckham Jr. (my daughter’s favorite football player) is the Madden ’16 cover athlete. This thing swarmed up and took shape fast, and Mr. Super Catch himself will be donning the cover of the most over-hyped video game in the business this fall.

I long for the days though when I can start an online franchise with my buddy and get multiple years into it. I’ll definitely post some updates and screenshots on the blog.

Buccaneers Waiver Claim D.J. Swearinger

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The Buccaneers waiver claimed D.J. Swearinger after he was released by the Houston Texans. The Buccaneers received the first bite at the apple due to having a 2-14 record last season. Swearinger is a notorious big hitter who has some problems in the coverage aspect of the game, and was a second-round pick out of South Carolina in 2013.

Get to know him a little bit (football reference page here).

Here is his Scouting Report from NE Patriots Draft Site:

Athleticism
Swearinger is a well put together safety. On the shorter side but has a stout, physical build with good muscle tone and thickness throughout his frame. Shows very good playing strength has ability to take on lead blocks and blow them up. Can also get his hands on receivers and jam them at the line. Is moved all over the field and shows good laterally agility sliding to play the run, but he is much better when coming forward. Top end speed is average, but accelerates quickly when coming down hill and powerful at point of impact. Shows an explosive closing burst in run support, able to generate a lot of power.

Displays pretty good fluidity through his midsection, but doesn’t display the suddenness when changing direction. Takes him a second to get going because he plays flat-footed at times. Lacks long arms and length.

Coverage Ability
Swearinger is a physical defender when in coverage. He’s good at attacking crossing routes and throws in front of him. Shows the ability to time up his hits well. Receivers want to know where he is one the field. Gets moved all around the formation and has played both free and strong safety. Projects best to the traditional strong safety position. Can play closer to the line of scrimmage and can get jams of slot receivers or tight ends. When he fails to get a good jam, he gets beaten with stutter step. Not quick or sudden enough to play man coverage from the slot in the NFL. Plays responsibly in zone coverage, takes good angles and will come off his man to attack underneath throws. Swearinger has shown decent deep third ability, keeping the ball and receiver in front of him. When playing deep, he takes good angles and shows average range.

Can be a step late, but puts himself in position to make a tackle. I don’t believe he always trust his eyes or first instincts. Takes a step in the right direction, before hesitating and then breaking hard. Swearinger uses his hands well in coverage, challenges the receiver and makes the receiver work to separate. His hand use could be his biggest weakness in the NFL, relies on clutching and grabbing far too much. It will result in illegal contact penalties at NFL level. Doesn’t have great recovery speed, once the receiver is by him he struggles to catch up.

Vs. The Run
Aggressive and physical run defender. Swearinger does a good job of reading his keys and flying up to fill the running lane. Powerful tackler, goes for the kill shot and explodes through the ball carrier. Takes proper angles from across the field to track the outside run, will change speeds to adjust his angle. Can come up into the box as an edge defender. When doing so, reads contain and comes down the line hard and at a good angle to make the tackle. Very good blitzer off the edge, accelerates quickly and can finish. Strong enough to take on lead blocks, slide off and make the tackle.

In the open field he has a tendency to overrun the play and also miss tackles vs. elusive runners.

There’s more as well on the site.