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Busting myths: Broncos 49ers, Sanchez/Tebow, Pitts (1 Viewer)

Arizona Ron

Footballguy
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82af7ec8/article/busting-preseason-myths-about-steelers-broncos-jets-more?campaign=Twitter_writers_schein

Every August, fans and media alike get swept up in hype, positive and negative. Consequently, assumptions form. And as these assumptions gain traction, they transform into genuine myths.

That's where I come into play.

In my debut effort for NFL.com, allow me to bust five of the biggest preseason myths ...

The Myth: Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh, and will be a top-tier contender.

The Truth: The Steelers have issues and look like a third-place team.

I respect Mike Tomlin. But the Pittsburgh Steelers have some major question marks. First of all, I'm not convinced the high-strung, shotgun marriage of Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger will work. What do you think the NFL Network cameras will capture on Thursday, Oct. 11, when Big Ben gets to the sideline after holding onto the ball too long against the Tennessee Titans? Have you studied the combustible Haley and Roethlisberger through the years?

Meanwhile, Mike Wallace isn't in camp. He wants Larry Fitzgerald money. The Steelers (wisely) won't give it to him. It isn't like you can spin that Wallace knows the system and won't be hurt by missing time -- Haley is implementing a new offense, after all.

Furthermore, Rashard Mendenhall is hurt. Do you trust Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer? I loved the draft picks of OG David DeCastro and OT Mike Adams, but can you bank on two rookie linemen?

Hines Ward is on TV. James Farrior has left the building. Troy Polamalu is older.

The Baltimore Ravens are the team to beat in the AFC North. Baltimore has a more imposing defense (even with the Terrell Suggs injury) and a better running attack than its arch rival in Pittsburgh.

The Cincinnati Bengals are legit. Retaining both coordinators (Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer) in the offseason was huge for growth and continuity. Zimmer always gets his defenses to overachieve. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green will continue to blossom in Year 2. Right now, on August 1st, the Steelers have more issues than the Bengals.

The Myth: Peyton Manning is the savior in Denver.

The Truth: Peyton Manning quarterbacks the third-best team in the AFC West.

Before Peyton fanatics go nuts, Manning himself confesses he isn't 100 percent. He hasn't taken a hit; I respect Manning as a living legend, but this is kind of a big deal. He didn't play a single down last year. Let's not pooh-pooh that.

I like where the San Diego Chargers are headed. Seriously. Now, I've been "Norved" before. (It's a verb that describes underachieving San Diego teams.) But I think Philip Rivers pressed last year with the injuries on the offensive line. Antonio Gates is finally healthy. Talking to Norv Turner this offseason, he gushed about the potential of Eddie Royal in the slot and Robert Meachem replacing Vincent Jackson as a deep threat. The Chargers' pass rush and third-down defense were deplorable last year. Draft picks Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes and free-agent acquisition Jarret Johnson help right away. San Diego is the team to beat in the AFC West. Turner will get the Bolts over the hump this year. Seriously!

And don't sleep on the Kansas City Chiefs. They are healthy. Kansas City pretty much played without Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki last season. We're talking about three of the best players on the team. Haley's convoluted system to get plays in hindered Matt Cassel. Then Cassel himself got hurt. I don't have to guess if he's good enough to lead K.C. to the playoffs. He has done it before. And don't forget about Jon Baldwin. His rookie season was a waste, thanks to the broken thumb suffered in a locker-room fight with Thomas Jones that forced him to miss much of training camp and the first five regular season games. Baldwin, Moeaki, Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston are big weapons for Cassel. Romeo Crennel is a defensive guru and the even-keel leader Haley was not.

The Chargers and Chiefs both have better weapons than what Manning has at his disposal in Denver.

The Broncos' defense overachieved last year under Dennis Allen, who's now coaching the Oakland Raiders. Jack Del Rio takes over Allen's post, but Del Rio only has one year of service as a defensive coordintor (with the Carolina Panthers back in 2002). Color me skeptical.

The Myth: The 49ers can't win a Super Bowl with Alex Smith under center.

The Truth: Smith is only getting better and the Niners are one of the NFL's four best teams.

Nothing pains me more than listening to critics bash Smith. After years of rotating offensive coordinators and Mike Singletary's bombastic/clueless coaching, Smith finally reached his potential last year under Jim Harbaugh. The haters call him a "game manager." I saw an improved decision maker who only tossed five picks, played spectacularly in an epic playoff win over the New Orleans Saints, and was a Kyle Williams fumble away from potentially playing in the Super Bowl.

Smith will finally have coaching stability from one year to the next. And San Francisco beefed up the receiver position with Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and Harbaugh favorite A.J. Jenkins. Truth be told, I'm one of the media types who thought the Niners picked Jenkins too early in April's draft. (Hi, Jim!) But he's talented nonetheless. Smith is only getting better and the Niners are one of the four best teams in football, along with the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and New England Patriots.

The Myth: The Jets are a chaotic mess at quarterback.

The Truth: Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow will work.

Let me give it to you in the simplest of terms. Tebow is the backup quarterback and will run the Wildcat. He is an upgrade over Mark Brunell. And because he is the omnipresent Timothy Richard Tebow, he will light a fire under Sanchez. In fact, he already has.

Sanchez had too many turnovers in big spots last season and lost the team. The Jets smartly lit a spark. Talking to Sanchez, you hear an edge, a seriousness to him that hadn't been evident in his first three years. He is now the first guy in the building and the last one to leave.

New offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is the key. He is no-nonsense, and Sanchez has responded to his coaching. Sparano will run the ball, unlike former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who ruined Christmas with his 59 passes last Dec. 24 in a loss to the Giants. Tebow is Sparano's Ricky Williams/Ronnie Brown in New York. The polarizing signal caller will run the Wildcat. Sanchez, like Chad Pennington in Miami, will be split out wide and deal with it.

I'm not naïve to the power of Tebow. Every Sanchez miscue will be magnified, with chants of "Te-bow" heard in unison. But let's not forget Sanchez does have four road playoff wins under his belt. The Jets' defense will help out, returning to prominence as a top-three unit. Last year was a lost season. The Tebow trade has actually helped Sanchez -- and the Jets -- find their identity again.

The Myth: The Panthers will win the Super Bowl.

The Truth: Carolina will finish last in the NFC South.

I appreciate Ryan Kalil's moxie, taking out a full-page advertisement in the Charlotte Observer to declare the Carolina Panthers would win Super Bowl XLVII. Kalil didn't back away when we pressed him on the "SiriusXM Blitz." However, he's absolutely nuts. I know Cam Newton and Carolina are a trendy playoff pick. I think Carolina is the fourth-best team in its own division.

The New Orleans Saints are in a chaotic state, with stench of "Bountygate" and the season-long suspensions of Sean Payton and Jonathan Vilma. But they still employ Drew Brees and are loaded on offense. Steve Spagnuolo is a major upgrade over Gregg Williams at defensive coordinator. The Saints have more talent and experience than Carolina.

It's well-documented that the Atlanta Falcons struggle in January, but they don't skip a beat in the regular season. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White comprise a more polished passing attack than Newton, Steve Smith and Co. in Carolina. New Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is a gem, to boot.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quit on Raheem Morris. Greg Schiano changes the culture. He's the right guy at the right time. Tampa Bay upgraded the offense in a big way this offseason, drafting physical RB Doug Martin, signing difference-making receiver Vincent Jackson and pilfering Carl Nicks from New Orleans to solidify the line. Martin is going to get 20 carries per game and will be my pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Fellow rookie Mark Barron is a winner, plain and simple. Josh Freeman will bounce back under Schiano, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and the rest of the new staff. I love Tampa Bay to bounce back this year and knock on the playoff door. The Bucs are the surprise team -- and they're better than the Panthers.

I told Kalil when we spoke on SiriusXM that he raised the bar too high. Carolina won six games last year. Eight wins is progress. The Panthers still have gaping holes behind Smith at receiver. And the defense has a bunch of question marks, even after the savvy draft pick of linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kalil says he can take criticism because he is, "fat, bald and has short arms." I love the self-deprecation. Better to laugh than cry when the Panthers are in the basement.

Yes, I'm the new guy here at NFL.com, and I'm overjoyed to be part of this incredible team. This season, I'll provide hard-hitting, informed, sizzling opinions. There is no gray area when you read my columns. And I value your take. I read your comments at the bottom of the page and encourage you to tweet me at @AdamSchein.
 
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TheDirtyWord

Footballguy
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82af7ec8/article/busting-preseason-myths-about-steelers-broncos-jets-more?campaign=Twitter_writers_schein

The Myth: The 49ers can't win a Super Bowl with Alex Smith under center.

The Truth: Smith is only getting better and the Niners are one of the NFL's four best teams.

Nothing pains me more than listening to critics bash Smith. After years of rotating offensive coordinators and Mike Singletary's bombastic/clueless coaching, Smith finally reached his potential last year under Jim Harbaugh. The haters call him a "game manager." I saw an improved decision maker who only tossed five picks, played spectacularly in an epic playoff win over the New Orleans Saints, and was a Kyle Williams fumble away from potentially playing in the Super Bowl.

Smith will finally have coaching stability from one year to the next. And San Francisco beefed up the receiver position with Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and Harbaugh favorite A.J. Jenkins. Truth be told, I'm one of the media types who thought the Niners picked Jenkins too early in April's draft. (Hi, Jim!) But he's talented nonetheless. Smith is only getting better and the Niners are one of the four best teams in football, along with the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and New England Patriots.
This is the situation to me that has the most intrigue. I agree for the most part with this and I'm getting the sense that Smith is being significantly disregarded as a viable QB...it almost feels like the consensus is that the 49ers suceeded despite Smith. He feels like a genuine veteran under the radar sneaky play for QB2 that could pay off.
 

butcher boy

Footballguy
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82af7ec8/article/busting-preseason-myths-about-steelers-broncos-jets-more?campaign=Twitter_writers_schein

The Myth: The 49ers can't win a Super Bowl with Alex Smith under center.

The Truth: Smith is only getting better and the Niners are one of the NFL's four best teams.

Nothing pains me more than listening to critics bash Smith. After years of rotating offensive coordinators and Mike Singletary's bombastic/clueless coaching, Smith finally reached his potential last year under Jim Harbaugh. The haters call him a "game manager." I saw an improved decision maker who only tossed five picks, played spectacularly in an epic playoff win over the New Orleans Saints, and was a Kyle Williams fumble away from potentially playing in the Super Bowl.

Smith will finally have coaching stability from one year to the next. And San Francisco beefed up the receiver position with Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and Harbaugh favorite A.J. Jenkins. Truth be told, I'm one of the media types who thought the Niners picked Jenkins too early in April's draft. (Hi, Jim!) But he's talented nonetheless. Smith is only getting better and the Niners are one of the four best teams in football, along with the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and New England Patriots.
This is the situation to me that has the most intrigue. I agree for the most part with this and I'm getting the sense that Smith is being significantly disregarded as a viable QB...it almost feels like the consensus is that the 49ers suceeded despite Smith. He feels like a genuine veteran under the radar sneaky play for QB2 that could pay off.
49er homer here.Smith was very much a part of the success the Niners had last year. Not so much in big play ability, but more due to a lack of mistakes made. Probably more a factor of Harbaugh and Co. drawing up plays that played more to Smith's strengths. What worries me is that I doubt his 5 interception stat is repeatable. The 49ers also have a tougher schedule this year.

 

-jb-

Footballguy
Is it possible for me to agree with everything here, and still think Schein is a colossal deusche bag?

 

Shutout

Footballguy
Been listening to Adam for years.

I discount his Jets talk because he's too close to the source.

I find it 50/50 that the Panthers could be 4th. I think the Bucs will have to own that.

I think he is ALL OVER the Steelers. Haley was fortunate to have Kurt Warner when he did and he is a good offensive mind in his own right. But if he is trying to export his old ways to this team, it is going to look sloppy. Guys like Warner, Fitz, and Boldin can freelance. The Steelers can't (not as effectively).

This Steelers team has issues and they have real competition in their division. I agree with Adam that they have the look of a team that will not challenge for a title this year.

 

Kenny Powers

Footballguy
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82af7ec8/article/busting-preseason-myths-about-steelers-broncos-jets-more?campaign=Twitter_writers_schein

Every August, fans and media alike get swept up in hype, positive and negative. Consequently, assumptions form. And as these assumptions gain traction, they transform into genuine myths.

That's where I come into play.

In my debut effort for NFL.com, allow me to bust five of the biggest preseason myths ...

The Myth: Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh, and will be a top-tier contender.

The Truth: The Steelers have issues and look like a third-place team.

I respect Mike Tomlin. But the Pittsburgh Steelers have some major question marks. First of all, I'm not convinced the high-strung, shotgun marriage of Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger will work. What do you think the NFL Network cameras will capture on Thursday, Oct. 11, when Big Ben gets to the sideline after holding onto the ball too long against the Tennessee Titans? Have you studied the combustible Haley and Roethlisberger through the years?

Meanwhile, Mike Wallace isn't in camp. He wants Larry Fitzgerald money. The Steelers (wisely) won't give it to him. It isn't like you can spin that Wallace knows the system and won't be hurt by missing time -- Haley is implementing a new offense, after all.

Furthermore, Rashard Mendenhall is hurt. Do you trust Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer? I loved the draft picks of OG David DeCastro and OT Mike Adams, but can you bank on two rookie linemen?

Hines Ward is on TV. James Farrior has left the building. Troy Polamalu is older.

The Baltimore Ravens are the team to beat in the AFC North. Baltimore has a more imposing defense (even with the Terrell Suggs injury) and a better running attack than its arch rival in Pittsburgh.

The Cincinnati Bengals are legit. Retaining both coordinators (Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer) in the offseason was huge for growth and continuity. Zimmer always gets his defenses to overachieve. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green will continue to blossom in Year 2. Right now, on August 1st, the Steelers have more issues than the Bengals.
The bolded I think are valid points, the team is not better off without Wallace or Mendenhall considering their replacements. We will see if the other WRs and RBs can improve, handle their share of the load, and make a name for themselves.Im not worried about the Haley-Roethlisberger relationship at all, and Id actually expect at least one sideline argument this year, and thats all it will be, a sideline argument (although the media will talk about it for days). Roethlisberger will finally be in a system where he has more control and can use the no huddle more often. Even without Wallace, I think he will rack up some nice numbers thanks to this, as well as utilizing more passes to the RBs and TEs.

I think Hines and Farrior being gone are good things. There are plenty of leaders on this team, so the Steelers wont be short changed in that department, and their on field play would be more detrimental than good if they were still around.

As for 3rd place, I wouldnt bet on it. Sure, the Ravens could win the division, but you couldnt convince me any team besides them or the Patriots is/will be better than the Steelers this year. The NFC is much stronger than the NFC right now, and the Steelers are too good to go worse than 11-5 barring numerous big injuries.

 
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rascal

Footballguy
The Chargers and Chiefs both have better weapons than what Manning has at his disposal in Denver.
Wow. I don't see that at all.
I see it with the Chiefs. The group of Charles, Hillis, Moeaki, Bowe, Baldwin and Breaston seems better than the Broncos skill players. Mostly because it starts with Charles.
I can at least understand that, but with Cassel @ QB does it really matter?
 

drummer

Footballguy
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82af7ec8/article/busting-preseason-myths-about-steelers-broncos-jets-more?campaign=Twitter_writers_schein

The Myth: The 49ers can't win a Super Bowl with Alex Smith under center.

The Truth: Smith is only getting better and the Niners are one of the NFL's four best teams.

Nothing pains me more than listening to critics bash Smith. After years of rotating offensive coordinators and Mike Singletary's bombastic/clueless coaching, Smith finally reached his potential last year under Jim Harbaugh. The haters call him a "game manager." I saw an improved decision maker who only tossed five picks, played spectacularly in an epic playoff win over the New Orleans Saints, and was a Kyle Williams fumble away from potentially playing in the Super Bowl.

Smith will finally have coaching stability from one year to the next. And San Francisco beefed up the receiver position with Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and Harbaugh favorite A.J. Jenkins. Truth be told, I'm one of the media types who thought the Niners picked Jenkins too early in April's draft. (Hi, Jim!) But he's talented nonetheless. Smith is only getting better and the Niners are one of the four best teams in football, along with the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and New England Patriots.
This is the situation to me that has the most intrigue. I agree for the most part with this and I'm getting the sense that Smith is being significantly disregarded as a viable QB...it almost feels like the consensus is that the 49ers suceeded despite Smith. He feels like a genuine veteran under the radar sneaky play for QB2 that could pay off.
49er homer here.Smith was very much a part of the success the Niners had last year. Not so much in big play ability, but more due to a lack of mistakes made. Probably more a factor of Harbaugh and Co. drawing up plays that played more to Smith's strengths. What worries me is that I doubt his 5 interception stat is repeatable. The 49ers also have a tougher schedule this year.
Smith's year is comparable to his 2006 year without the INT's. The offense was mediocre for the most part, and Harbaugh really didn't go out on a limb with Smith at all, and lest not we forget, the passing offense was in the bottom third of the League. Smith took 44 sacks in a Roman offense. The 49ers took 55 sacks in a Martz offense with JTO and Shaun Hill. Smith started all 16 games last season. And took 44 sacks. There lies your poor RZ, 3rd down, and the lack of INTS. Thus, a Smith slightly above average.

ETA: the 55 sacks occurred under two HC's in Nolan/Singletary in a Franchise under complete turmoil and with no real QB situation for the future. For Smith to take 44 under Harbaugh/Roman tells you something about his season.

Also: the 49ers had a +28 giveaway/takeaway ratio in 2011. Smith's sacks were a huge part of that, and without that ratio, they would have lost at least 3 more games. Alex Smith wasn't a huge factor in their success. Justin Smith was. The more valuable Smith will be Justin this upcoming season. Besides, think about how Alex adjusts to FA WR's. He still can't connect consistently with Crabtree, and doesn't have a lot of throws in him.

I dunno about this whole "myth" that the 49ers can't get a ring with Alex Smith. It isn't like a few teams have won a ring with lesser QB output. The bottom line is on a lesser team Alex Smith still would not be a difference maker, say like the Dolphins who passed on him because they felt he wasn't better than Moore. Once you dig into Smith's 2011 season you will find a lot of positives, but still not enough to call him a Franchise QB or a major reason of the 49ers success. The 49ers finally had a pass rush last season. They were ball hawks in spurts under Singletary to create TO's. The difference between Sing and Harbaugh is that Sing actually put the games in Smith's hands, and it blew up on him at times. Harbaugh doesn't do that as much and shuts the offense down and goes conservative to let his defense win games. But it isn't like if they got Andy Dalton in the draft instead of Kaep to let him manage the offense which is fairly pedestrian. The true "myth" is the idea of Smith having all these OC's hurting his progress. The 49ers had used the digit system since Norv Turner was brought in, and Jimmy Raye got Smith to throw more down field than any of his predecessors. Smith threw more chunks of yardage under Raye than he did last season under Roman.

Schein must be reading the hack Matt Maiocco. He really does not know 49er football at all.

 
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griff321

Footballguy
It's hard for me to take a guy serious when he's trying to perpetuate the Wallace wants Fitz money myth that's been busted as BS. The Ravens and Bengals are having a heap of problems of their own to make the division still wide open(except for the Browns IMO).

Then he's trying to say the Jets are going to be fine with the Sanchez/Tebow mess and it's really got me thinking this is all shtick.

 

Sinrman

Footballguy
I agree with some of what he says. I think Pittsburgh is looking old, is having issues with injuries, and the Wallace holdout (if it ends up that way) would seriously hurt their already depleted offense. They could very well be in 3rd place at the end of this season.

Manning is the savior of Denver? Eh, to a certain degree, yes. They haven't had a good QB for many years now. They have a nice, young defense, and some great talent on offense. It's a matter of whether Manning can be kept upright or 16 games or not, and whether he and the WRs click. If they do, they will win the AFC West easily. If not, well... they could very well be the 3rd place team. But the team I'm most doubtful about in the AFC West is San Diego. They looked bad last year, and they lost their best weapon. Sure, they added a few pieces back, but I'm not convinced players like Meachem are the answer.

Absolutely agree about the 49ers. They are my Super Bowl pick this year. If half the weapons they brought in this offseason pay off, they will win it.

The Jets? Gigantic disaster. Not just because of the whole Sanchez/Tebow thing, but because they have almost NOTHING at the WR position. I think they'll be 3rd place this year.

And the Panthers? Really? We had to put that one up simply because a player said Super Bowl? Puhhhhlease! They will be the cellar dwellers this year, albeit improved slightly.

 

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